What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but Colin Sweetman will still share a few experiences…

We were somewhere after Barstow on the edge of the desert when sleep began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit hungover; maybe you should take my iPod…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us as the bus slowed down to let us passengers take a glimpse of the sky, which was full of what looked like some kid’s gigantic Lego set, all towering over the bus, now going about a twenty miles an hour with the air-con broken to the central strip of Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! Get me off this goddamn sweatbox!”

Of course, this is only a rewrite from the popular Hunter S. Thompson novel, but it arguably sums up my arrival in Las Vegas. That said, Vegas bears little resemblance in real life to how it’s depicted in literature and films (Ocean’s WhateverWhat Happens in Vegas, other crap movies). The main strip is currently undergoing massive construction work as one of the world’s largest hotels, the MGM CityCenter, is readied for opening in a few months.

Sadly for us, this meant walking around the entire street just to get to the other side, which – in desert weather – meant arriving at our nightclub destination drowned in sweat.

Despite this, Vegas appeared just as I expected it to: unbelievably elusive. After driving for several hours through dirt and sand, its mirage just pops out of nowhere.

But let’s cut to the chase. Drink in nightclubs is very expensive – just a tad bit higher than say, Lillie’s Bordello. One might pay $20+ into one of the lesser-known clubs that charges $5 for a bottle of Budweiser. But that’s not the money-grabber: in the three days I spent there, I spent only about a fifth of my money on alcohol, about half of it on gambling losses, and the rest on travel expenses.

The thing about gambling in Las Vegas is that the minimum hand for most games (excluding the slot machines) is $5 in cheap casinos, and $20 in the more upmarket ones. Of course, you also have to know how to play – a persistent problem for me – so I did what most big non-gamblers do, and threw all my money (about $200) on red, black, odd, even, and 24. Needless to say, I didn’t win a single thing throughout the entire trip. But even in losing that much hard-earned cash, how often would you find yourself in Vegas?

My fellow gambler, on the other hand, was one of those winner-loser people. He persisted gambling throughout each night, once coming back to the hotel room having lost as much as myself, and the next night having won twice as much as he had lost.

There are of course, other pieces to this story, but what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… except for herpes.

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