Hey champ, so you've made it to Sin City. Now what? First off, remember you're here to burn up the felt, not burn through your bank account and re-enact The Hangover. I'm not suggesting all work, no play, but I am suggesting that you recall that you are here to play poker - and if you're here for a serious event (WSOP, here we come!) then you have to take it seriously. You have to survive Vegas to enjoy Vegas...or even remember Vegas. Got it? OK. Good. Lecture over.
Aside from rocking the rails, here are some of the best things to do in Vegas:
1. Mon Ami Gabi
To say Vegas is a busy place is almost as much of an understatement as saying Mariah Carey is slightly busty. Part of the Vegas allure is undoubtedly the hustle and bustle, but if you’re too much a part of the insanity, it's hard to enjoy it. Sit back and watch the chaos glide by at Mon Ami Gabi. Grab a table on the terrace (early evening, like 5-6pm) for some amazing people watching. This spot is across from the Bellagio, at the Paris, which means this spot is a double whammy, since you get to see the Bellagio's fountains at the same time. (They run every 30 minutes between 3pm-8pm and every 15 minutes from then until midnight.)
2. The Gun Store
It may not be everyone's bag, but the Gun Store is a much-loved Vegas destination. It may be because people are blowing too much dough, or having too much fun or maybe the crowds are just getting to them and they just need to shoot something without doing jail time, but this place is regularly packed. You don't need anything other than a driver's licence to fire off live ammo MP-40s, M-16s, Tommy Guns, Uzis and Ak-47s. Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing, but it is an immensely popular thing, so it’s made the cut.
3. Breakfast at the Wynn
Oh sweet raisin danish, there is nothing much better than having breakfast at the Wynn. I could go on, but I think this quote by Vegas aficionado Joel Stein says it best: "John Cusack once told me, at a post-fight party at the House of Blues, that you never want to wake up in Vegas. Cusack has apparently never been to the right breakfast buffet."
Amen, brother. Amen.
4. Club Yourself
The clubs are great, if loud music, pricey drinks and good-looking people are your jam. Hot spots include LAX at the Luxor, The Bank at the Bellagio, and Tao at the Venetian. Dress codes are enforced, so spruce up before you head out.
5. New York, New York Roller Coaster
OK, this ride isn't going to make you soil your pants and it's certainly not going to knock the socks off any hardcore adrenaline junkie, but it is a fun way to take a peek inside the New York New York Hotel and Casino from a pretty cool vantage.
6. The Vegas Pool Party
Admittedly, this isn't something I've done myself, but I've heard about it and if you're looking to get a taste of the dirtier side of Vegas, then this option is for you. Here's how it works: The Rio Hotel and the Sapphire Club have an arrangement where the off-duty dancers soak up the sun at the Rio's pool. Unsurprisingly, it'll cost you (Saturday and Sunday are $50) to get your fix of eye-candy, but if it's your scene, it could be worth it. You can also check out a more spring-break feel to this theme at Rehab - the Sunday party at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Just keep in mind you're going to experience a sleazy party of frat boy proportions, so expect the sort of gathering that puts the ‘ass’ in class.
7. R & R
Whether you've been grinding it out at the tables, on the strip or both, you're going to need downtime if you want to preserve your energy and your wits. I recommend taking a spa day. Canyon Ranch and the Bellagio's Spa are among the best, but all of the spas at the big hotels are really a solid bet.
8. Old Vegas
Vegas sure can clean up good, but if you really want to experience real Vegas, head downtown to the seedier, less polished part of Sin City. It's like talking a walk back in time. Trust me, I've done it. Play a game at Binions (that's not on the WSOP circuit). If you're experience is like mine, you'll find yourself going head to head with some seriously grizzled competition. Just like being back in the Wild West, my friends – but with decent cell reception. All part of the experience!
9. The Zoo at the Mirage
It's no San Diego, but Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage does have a solid spread of dolphins, lions, tigers, leopards and panthers in this conservation minded venue. Definitely worth a look.
10. The Mob Museum
Visit the Mob Museum to see how some of the biggest guns in history rolled. This place illuminates some fascinating stories about Vegas' nefarious roots in the gangster era of the 20th century. Learn about the likes of Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel and John Gotti and get yourself thoroughly educated on the darker history of Sin City.
Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive. Every time I go to Vegas I notice they’ve found a new way to slap lipstick on that pig, so there’s constantly something new to see and do. These ones I’ve mentioned are just a few of the more popular attractions for the younger, single contingent. It can get pretty hairy, so if you’ve never been before – or even if you’ve been and found yourself totally exhausted post-trip – read up on my tips for surviving Vegas.