Vegas Meetup – A Learning Experience

Freemont Street Experience

Las Vegas, Nevada.

In March, we drove to Las Vegas from Buckeye, only about 4 1/2 hours. We picked up my niece, Pat, and her husband, Gary, at the airport and went to check in to our hotel. They introduced us a few years ago to the Main Street Station, a downtown casino and hotel that used to be the passenger train terminal for Las Vegas many years ago.

Main Street Station
Main Street Station at night

Lynn and I are small-time gamblers, usually playing the slot machines until they take our stake. We win if we get tired of playing and we’ve simply come away without losing, or even losing only a small part of our stake.

The opening photo features a view of the 5-block long pedestrian mall called the Freemont Experience. We found ourselves walking along this strip several times during our 5-day visit. Though we spent some time in a couple of the many casinos on Freemont Street, it was mostly to have dinner in one of the casino restaurants.

Vegas Visit-6
A shiny busker

The Freemont Experience attracts many performers who ply their special skills for donations from the many visitors. After being closed and fenced off for a time during the earlier days of the pandemic, the mall reopened last year with robust cleaning, though the live stage shows remained shuttered until later in the season.

With Omicron waning, the Freemont Experience is again fully open. Since it’s an outdoor venue, there were few masks in use by guests, though many employees of the venues who interacted with guests were still wearing masks as of early March 2022.

For the record, this post is scheduled to be published in mid-May, and I know that right now, a new variant is on the rise in Europe. I may end up editing this article for my Covid remarks before it gets published. In any case, in the open-air mall, there weren’t as many buskers as I recall from earlier visits, but the gentleman in the top hat and suit attracted my attention… I had to stop and reflect upon him for a bit… I saw a lot of myself in his suit. (OK, sorry, not sorry, for the puns.)

Vegas Visit-7
Sunset in Vegas

One thing that was new to us this trip is the Circa Resort and Casino, now open and fully operational. On our last trip to Vegas, that large hotel on the left in the image above was under construction. In the center of the photo is the Garage Mahal, Circa’s parking/valet/ride-sharing hub. This cell phone image was captured from the sixth-floor window of our hotel room. The Plaza Hotel is visible just behind the Garage Mahal.

Vegas Visit-4
Casino Quest

Back when there was $3 blackjack, I used to play until my $50 ran out, sometimes for an hour or two. I quit when the stakes got higher. Over the years, I would watch the Craps tables where people seemed to be having a great time. It appears to be a team activity with all of the players “against the house” and all celebrating anytime the house loses. I thought it might be fun this time to learn about the game. Still, I was not planning to spend $10 for a pass bet. I thought maybe I might be OK with $5 minimums, at least to learn. I searched YouTube for videos on how to play Craps and I found the Casino Quest YouTube site. From there, I learned some of the basics, but not enough for me to want to risk any money on what I think is a relatively complicated game.

It turns out that Casino Quest is a business in the Fashion Mall on the Las Vegas Strip. They offer one-on-one lessons in several different casino games for a flat fee of $25/hour ($20 if you reserve online in advance), and they provide the chips. You aren’t gambling, you are being taught how to play the game.

Vegas Visit-5
Dean, our instructor at Casino Quest

We stopped by the mall to check the place out and found that we could purchase gambling equipment. We also noticed three Craps tables and other game tables used for instruction. We inquired about getting a lesson, and Dean, who had just started working with another guest, directed us to hang a bit as one of the other instructors would soon be available. We waited, and were just about ready to leave when Dean finished up and got ready to start with a young couple who’d signed up for beginner training. He asked them if they minded if Gary and I joined in and they approved. Dean was then free to include Gary and me in a one-hour introduction to the game. We found out though, that it’s best to go online and register for an appointment slot. They are quite busy.

After our lesson, with $300 worth of “play chips”, I was ahead by $67. I even tipped the dealer with a couple of the play $5 chips. >grin<. In any case, the experience was way too much for me to take in for such a complicated game, Gary and I decided to come back the next day and do a two-hour session with Dean. We went online and made an appointment for the next available time, 2 PM the next day.

Though I still wasn’t ready to put my money into a real game, I decided to try my luck at a machine game called “bubble craps.” Basically, it’s an electronic version of Craps played by one or more people. In the center is a single “bubble” with a pair of dice. When it’s time to roll, the machine vibrates the bottom of the bubble and the dice flip around to land on the number when the vibration stops.

I put $50 into the machine to see what would happen, and I was able to generate a pretty good run, walking away from the table in about 30 minutes at over $40 ahead. The next morning, I tried it again determined to only play on the $42 of the casino’s money I had taken the night before. In less than 15 minutes, I was down $20 from my starting position, and I called it quits still with $22 of the casino’s money in my pocket.

That afternoon, Gary and I went for our 2-hour session with Dean and got some instruction in basic Craps strategies. We didn’t do so well with neither of us being able to generate a decent series of rolls before we hit “Big Red” (7 is a loser, but no one at the table ever says “Seven”, it’s bad luck. They call it Big Red.) Our original $300 play money stake had barely $100 left when we were finished.

The upshot is, for $60 I got an inexpensive lesson (for Las Vegas) in a game I was interested in learning. I consider my winnings at Bubble Craps a discount on my $60, leaving me with a net cost of $38 for three hours of instruction. All in all, I’m not planning to spend any time at a real Craps table. It was a fun exercise, but I think I’ll stick to the slot machines. >grin<

John Steiner

14 comments

  1. Great photos. Some years ago, my husband tried the probability in LV. He won small. I fell asleep by him. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This was a fun post, John. If you stay at Polo Towers, a Diamond Resorts a timeshare facility across from Aria, they give Craps lessons for free. We went that night and played. Vince had won a couple hundred playing poker, and I quickly lost it after the dealer fellow who was helping me left the table. I think we ended up with $13 and had some ice cream. It was still a lot of fun.

    • I treat my gambling as entertainment. I risk the price of the “ticket” for the next hour or two. If I am not lucky, then maybe it’s only 15 minutes, but one has to know when it’s time to quit. When my stake is gone, I don’t reach into my pocket for more.

      • Vince is like that with his poker and I don’t mind that. If he loses, he’s done – movie’s over, ride finished. End of story. Then it is just entertainment. Did you ever see the movie, “Molly’s Game?” It is a story (I think true) about poker players who didn’t know how to say no.

  3. Lovely photos, John, although they fail to tempt me to go to Vegas. ๐Ÿ™‚ My parents have an old one-arm bandit (in lovely condition) and when the girls were little, my husband gave them the nickels my mom kept nearby and let them play. Of course they eventually lost all the money, a lesson they never forgot. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s a good lesson to learn, Janet. Slots are all about slowly taking money from your pocket to theirs. How else could they build those beautiful casinos? >grin<

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