Las Vegas Odds And Ends

Here are a few Las Vegas tidbits too short for a blog entry individually, but worthy of note.


Here are a few Las Vegas tidbits too short for a blog entry individually, but worthy of note. I saw Elvis yesterday. Creepy.

Helaine saw Michael Jackson. Extremely creepy.

“Which nose stage,” I asked?

“The last one,” she replied. “He was carrying a shopping bag.”

Maybe extremely creepy isn’t creepy enough?



There’s a building just off the strip in City Center. It’s never been occupied. Its windows are gone. Workmen are demolishing it where it stands!

It is under deconstruction.

During the original construction major deficiencies were noticed. Architects redesigned the building with fewer floors. Then more problems. It’s too weak to survive an earthquake Vegas is easily capable of.





antonio and helainePoker has celebrities. Really. Helaine had her picture taken with Antonio Esfandiari.

I said hello to Greg Raymer.

“That’s Jennifer Tilly,” Helaine said as we left a registration area. Sure enough she was on her cellphone sitting on-the-floor behind a large sign at the very corner of a hallway. Unless you came out the door we used she was invisible.

Outside a roped off area with a few tables dozens of gawkers stood and watched Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Vanessa Selbst, Erick Lindgren and others play in a very high stakes tournament.

There’s live Internet coverage of the action every day and ESPN will broadcast a boatload of highlights.

I currently recognize more poker players than Phillies players!


We’re across from Bellagio. In Fenway terms, we have a partially obstructed view of the fountain show.

Last night about 1:00 AM I was at the room’s desk, typing. I heard some pop, pop, pop and thought it was the fountains.

Then more pops.

I turned to see fireworks going off from the roof of the Cromwell Boutique Hotel. It’s not quite a block away.

No clicky on this trip, so I picked up my point-and-shoot, braced myself and fired off a few shots.

I have no idea why fireworks went off at 1:00 AM on the nose, but they did. Thank you. Two minutes well spent.

Las Vegas Wrap-Up

In case you’re wondering I’m told it’s $2/minute for a massage. It’s in the poker room. This is not a ‘happy ending’ kinda thing.

There are a few unfinished tidbits from Las Vegas I wanted to get in. I know business is down–tragically down. I couldn’t see it. The city was as busy as I’ve ever seen it. The casinos were rockin’. It’s my understanding the outlying casinos have taken this worse than the Strip, but I never went there. Maybe I just hit a good week?

There are lots of construction cranes that are silent and still in a town that used to build around-the-clock. From outward appearances Echelon seems dead in the water. There was some, but less activity at City Center, mid-Strip.

wynn-from-palazzo.jpgThere are lots of good stories in Las Vegas. My current favorite concerns the animus between Sheldon Adelson (Called the “tallest man in the world when standing on his wallet”) and fellow casino magnate and New Haven native Steve Wynn. Allegedly Adelson positioned the Palazzo Hotel in such a way as to limit the sun at Wynn’s pool to an hour or two a day.

Is it true? Who knows. Good story anyway.

lily-1.jpegOver the past few years I’ve watched the increase of masseuses giving massages to poker players while they play! In Vegas, where every woman is already good looking… where it looks like the cocktail waitresses have gotten leg extension surgery… this takes on added sparkle.

Lily (pictured left) was giving a massage to the guy in the seat to my right one night during the Venetian’s 7:00 PM tournament. I’m not sure it really made it more difficult to concentrate, but that case could easily be made.

During a break I asked her how long she’d been doing it and whether it had made her stronger. She held her arms up at shoulder level with her clenched fists inward toward her head. Wow!

In case you’re wondering I’m told it’s $2/minute for a massage. It’s in the poker room. This is not a ‘happy ending’ kinda thing.

I had my camera with me a lot while in Vegas. I was never asked to put it away except once while I shot participants in a slot tournament. One night I even used the tripod while in the Palazzo’s spectacular casino.

Finally, Helaine and I found the funniest slot machine ever. Even better it acted as if it was our own private ATM!

“Invaders from the Planet Moolah” features cows as the wild card match. The funny part is the cows moos (obviously humans not even trying to pass as cows) are slightly delayed from each other making each ‘hit’ slightly different and weirdly comical.

This machine would be fun to play even while losing which is both sad and scary. Luckily we didn’t have to find out first hand.

Favorite line from the trip: “Oh look, a penny slot machine. Anybody got change for a nickel?”

In Vegas Sex Still Sells

“$35 special,” says one. “$47 special,” say another. Tina’s “TOTALLY NUDE” ad claims her $99 charge includes “no hidden fee’s”


Now that we’re back a few people have asked me about the economy in Las Vegas. I don’t usually go in late November, but the crowds were certainly down from what I’ve seen during the summer. That’s probably expected. Helaine was told some casinos have put their dealers on a four day week. The housing market there has tanked.

IMG_4274.JPGThere’s still a lot of construction–huge construction nearing completion. Someone’s going to take a bath there. Who’s coming to City Center when it opens? It’s a $9 billion investment for MGM-Mirage. Who’s filling Adelson’s Palazzo or Steve Wynn’s new luxury tower Encore?

I just got an email ad from Wynn tonight. They’re seeing tough times if they’re down to my level.

Last recession Las Vegas proudly said it was bulletproof. And it was–then.

IMG_3863.JPGA number of years ago… maybe when they were scared of the last major recession, Las Vegas decided to re-brand itself. It would become family friendly. Think “Vegas Vacation.” That’s gone.

Walking the Strip I passed the Flamingo. It’s an older hotel. It would be considered nice any place else where there isn’t as much competition. The entire casino is covered with an ad for Donny and Marie, their current house act. Under the D&M sign a doorless doorway opened to the casino where bikini clad go-go dancers did their thing above a blackjack pit.

IMG_3883.JPGThe Strip itself is an amazing flesh peddling supermarket. Let me make myself clear, there are no obvious (well, to me) streetwalkers. There are dozens and dozens of exceptionally short (under five feet) Hispanic (mainly) men from somewhere in Central America who help these unseen women advertise.

IMG_3723.JPGHolding a stack of what seem to be playing cards they slap against their upper leg then thrust a card for you to take. Of course they’re not playing cards. They are ads for ‘entertainers’ and ‘dancers’ who will come to your hotel room. The ads show women of every color and persuasion, some beautiful, some innocent, some overtly slutty. They are all erotically alluring.

“$35 special,” says one. “$47 special,” say another. Tina’s “TOTALLY NUDE” ad claims her $99 charge includes “no hidden fee’s”

Tina, there no apostrophe on “fees.”

Stef wanted to know if the girl you got was the one pictured–like I’d know. After reading the Elliot Spitzer stories I’d guess not. Girls to your room are a fungible commodity.

IMG_3789-1.JPGIn tiny mouse print on Roxy’s ad it says, “If paying by credit card, nature of transaction will not be reflected on statement.” I would have guessed they’d play that up?

For the first time this past week I saw men passing out cards while having a lit sign strapped to their body. That was among the more surrealistic moments of the trip.

All the girls have (I saw no men advertised) phone numbers. Most also have websites!

Since the cards are given out on the street there is “protection” for the kids. These nude women have their nipples obscured. Sometimes it’s with a star or other printed symbol. Most times it looks the the nipple has had a glowing led attached! It looks like some sort of ‘breast ray.’

They re-did the Mirage a few years ago. Until they did hookers would hang out at the Baccarat Bar late at night. OK–do I really know they’re hookers? No. But they were. Helaine and I would often scope them out critically on our way to our room. It was part of the Las Vegas charm.