Last week I was in L.A. for business so I figured why not stop by for a quick Vegas blackjack day on my way home since I was already on the west coast. I had a comp room at The Cromwell, which is one of my favorite casinos, and a credit for airfare from a canceled trip last year so my only non-gaming expense would be Uber and food.
I flew LA to Vegas at 7am and it looked nothing like the TV show. I did get an upgrade to first class for the <1-hour flight, but otherwise, it was fairly uneventful. When I landed in Vegas both the Uber pick-up and the taxi line were empty in Terminal 3 – btw if you don’t have checked bags I’d always recommend using Terminal 3 for quicker taxi/Uber access – which is the first time I’ve ever seen this. This was also my worst Vegas Uber ride ever, the guy didn’t speak any English, took the highway at rush hour and then pulled a U-turn on Flamingo to get into the driveway – luckily Uber didn’t charge me a higher rate for the long-haul.
With the travel over I settled into my room for some work calls prior to hitting the casinos. The Cromwell has cool funky decor in the rooms and is one of my favorite places to play due to its intimate vibe, but I will say that in the future I’ll probably stick with Planet Hollywood or Paris for no other reason than the view. I usually get a great view of Bellagio fountains and the strip and at Cromwell with the corner lot, I only had a partial view.
On to the casino. I stopped by and said hi to my favorite host at Cromwell, but they still haven’t listened to me so there was no high-limit table open on a weekday so I headed over to Bally’s. At Bally’s I sat at my usual $50 table in the high-limit room with one of my regular dealers. Our first interaction was pretty funny…we shook hands said pleasantries and then the cocktail waitress came over with a Bud Light and said ‘welcome back, here you go!’ My dealer smiles and says ‘you come here too much.’ I say ‘Nah, it’s just about right.’ The first round at Bally’s I doubled my buy-in for 7 yards and then went to get a slice of cheap pizza for lunch. After lunch, I went and played $25 blackjack with one of the dealers I know in the main pit – there are 3 women who have been dealing there for 20 years and I see them most trips just to say hi even though their games are getting progressively worse with multiple side bets and 8-deck shoes. Another double-up for 3 yards and I figured I should try to make this trip a big winner so I headed to the Planet Hollywood high-limit room. I wasn’t really paying attention to my dealer until mid-way through the 2nd show when she started sniffling – ugh – I’m not catching a cold or flu here. I ride through a fairly bad shoe, which brought me back to just above even for the trip and bail out without trying to rally.
I took a quick trip to the Diamond lounge to get some free dinner before a nighttime blackjack session. For my last session, I went to one of my regular dealers. The conversation for this session was more interesting than the blackjack. It turns out my guy is keeping his eyes open for a new job and started giving me stories about crazy things he’s seen at the casino as well as how much dealers make at the various properties. I’m not going to share too many details here since a) I don’t have another source to confirm they are accurate and b) I don’t want to get him in trouble, but there were dealers caught trying to steal chips in their shoes and he shared what the average dealer makes at most properties on the strip. The range is $50-120K for the mid-to-upper mid properties and he said getting a job at the high-end places is almost impossible since people rarely leave those jobs. Another interesting tidbit was that dealers at one of the high-end strip properties reportedly made $1600 in tips on Super Bowl Sunday.
After that very intriguing conversation, I closed the day up 6 yards and headed off to bed. As usual, I played my 25 cent Wheel of Fortune machine at the airport and this time took home an extra $20. Overall the cost of the trip was 5000 SkyMiles, $30 in Uber, and $13 in food. Overall, it was a fun 24-hours and I’m already looking forward to my next Vegas trip in April as well as a quick local trip on March 2nd for National Blackjack Day 3:2.