LAS VEGAS Ââ€“â€“ Look at that. To the left. Iâ€™ve never had to use a dateline before. Pretty sweet isnâ€™t it?
For those of you who donâ€™t know what dateline means, no, itâ€™s not a show on NBC. Chris Hansen is, hopefully, not lurking.
No, dateline notes where a particular story is being written. In this case, Sin City.
For those professors who read my story, I swear this isnâ€™t a leisure trip. Promise. Iâ€™m at the Society of Professional Journalists conference.
Actually â€¦ by the time you read this Iâ€™m probably going to be somewhere in the desert of Utah, which sucks.
But thatâ€™s beside the point because Iâ€™m writing this from my cheap, rundown Strip hotel in … ta-da! â€¦ Las Vegas.
Instead of gambling. Between conference sessions. With no umbrella drink.
Wow, Iâ€™m kind of lame.
Anyhoo, hereâ€™s my half-way attempt at giving you a Top 5 things to do in Vegas. Anything in this list is not an admission of guilt or action. Purely observation (I promise Mom).
1. Donâ€™t upset the owners
So maybe this is a practice you should apply everywhere, but especially in Vegas.
You see: I heard this rumor that Vegas is all mobbed up. And there I was, thinking Sin City was a family tourist destination.
I probably shouldnâ€™t even be writing about this. They could be watching. A giant man in a black suit just walked past the door. Crap.
So when the pit boss says, â€œSlow down. Youâ€™re winning too much money,â€ you say, â€œYes sir,â€ tip the dealer and turn around to run as fast as you can.
2. Hit the buffets
Nothing illustrates the American Dream more than stuffing your face full of as many different ethnic foods as possible. For less than 30 bucks: what a great deal.
Whatâ€™s that? You say $30 is expensive? Yeah, it is. But youâ€™re in Vegas â€“â€“ well, Iâ€™m in Vegas â€“â€“ and you should take all the deals you can get.
I mean, this place is â€œwhere nothing is too expensive,â€ as our session speaker said. Beers are like $10 bucks a piece.
So fill up on the buffet because it is the only food youâ€™ll be able to afford.
3. Always tip
One of our session speakers talked about a list of worse celebrity tippers (I know, great journalism advice).
But the rule around here is that you tip about $1 an hour or $1 per drink. And unless youâ€™re a famous golfer, who shall remain nameless, if you make a lot of money, tip a lot more.
So tip everywhere. And well. Not to mention it will give you good Karma, but this is literally the biggest way many of the workers here make their living.
Tip the dealer because they give you good cards. Tip the drink servers because they bring you free drinks.
But donâ€™t, donâ€™t tip security. They donâ€™t like that much.
4. Seek out the freebies
For being so expensive, Vegas does have a lot of free stuff for all those suckers, or poor journalists, who canâ€™t spend much.
Youâ€™ve got the free light-and-laser show on Fremont Street or the pirate show at Treasure Island or the fountains at the Bellagio or the volcano at the Mirage.
If you do gamble, win a lot of money. Often, theyâ€™ll comp a lot of cool stuff.
And, of course, they hand out trading cards on the sidewalk for you and your friends to play with. You know, the ones with the ladies on them?
5. Never take the insurance
Insurance is always a sucker bet, unless youâ€™re talking about car insurance because the locals here drive like crazed lunatics.
But â€œnever take the insuranceâ€ is just a metaphor for â€œdonâ€™t lose all your money.â€
Set an amount youâ€™re OK with losing â€“â€“ like about $200 or $10 if youâ€™re cheap like me â€“â€“ and when itâ€™s gone leave it.
If we see you on the side of the road in the middle of the desert walking home to Colorado after you hocked your car to play more slots, we will not pick you up.
Multimedia Editor Johnny Hart lost all his money playing War and needs a ride home, from the middle of the desert. Offers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.