JA › LAS VEGAS
I've called Las Vegas home three times in my life: in the 1990s, the early 2000s, and now in the 2020s. I'm enjoying it much more this time around as an older and wiser man. I have more self-discipline and less of a desire to indulge in the gambling and late-night debauchery that I enjoyed in my younger days. I'm happy to be back!
Las Vegas, which means “the meadows” in Spanish, is a city of contrasts. It is known for its bright lights, glitzy casinos, and endless entertainment options. However, it is also a city with a rich history, a diverse population, and a growing economy. In the last 20 years, the city’s population has grown by more than 30%, making it the most populous city in Nevada and the 28th most populous city in the United States.
Las Vegas is a city with a warm climate and an abundance of activities, making it the perfect place to get away from it all. And if you're looking for a more relaxed scene, there are plenty of neighborhoods off the Strip where you can find peace and quiet. The city's outskirts are home to charming suburbs and quiet neighborhoods, perfect for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Strip.
I would suggest that everyone try to experience New Year's Eve in Las Vegas at least once in their lives. It's a city that has something for everyone, and it's sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.
The 2010 New Year's Eve countdown video was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic. There are no masks in sight, and the crowd is packed together tightly.
What happened to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino?
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was once my favorite place to go. I loved seeing celebrities and musicians playing table games in a relaxed environment. It was like being at a high school party where all the popular kids were, and they attracted all the good-looking people. There was always great music playing, good late-night food, and ridiculous pool parties.
I'm not excited about the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino being built on the strip at the former Mirage. R.I.P. to The Mirage 🙏 It will be just another themed, soulless casino on the strip. The new owners have said that they're going to bring back the rock and roll theme, and they're even building a guitar-shaped hotel tower, but what about the celebrities, musicians, and pool parties?
The guitar-shaped hotel tower will be similar to one at the Hard Rock’s Hollywood, Florida location. It will be built in the space where The Mirage’s artificial volcano has erupted since Steve Wynn opened the resort in 1989. The tower will feature six light beams that shoot 20,000 feet into the sky, virtually extending the strings on the guitar’s cropped-short neck.
Another rebranding was from Bally's to the Horseshoe, which was a much-needed change. The Bally's name had become outdated, and the resort was in need of a major renovation. The new Horseshoe is a modern, stylish casino that is sure to be a hit with both locals and tourists.
Las Vegas is always reinventing itself, and the new Hard Rock and Horseshoe are just two examples of this. The city is constantly changing, and it is always fun to see what new developments are in store.
The SPHERE at the Venetian Resort is a new, state-of-the-art venue that's set to open in 2023. It's being developed by Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., the same company that operates some of the country's most popular venues, including Radio City Music Hall, The Chicago Theatre, and Madison Square Garden. The orb-shaped venue will have a capacity of between 17,500 and 20,000, making it one of the largest venues on the Las Vegas Strip.
It's sure to be a popular destination for concerts and other live entertainment. I can't wait to check it out!
Where to eat in Las Vegas?
Everywhere! Celebrity chefs from all over the world have set up shop in Sin City, bringing their unique culinary talents to the masses. From Michelin-starred restaurants to casual eateries, there's something for everyone in Las Vegas.
Bobby Flay: This classic American steakhouse is a must-visit for any fan of Bobby Flay, and steak.
Guy Savoy: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers French cuisine at its finest.
Gordon Ramsay: Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, Ramsay Burger, Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips, Gordon Ramsay Steak, and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. All of these five-star restaurants are located at the Las Vegas Strip.
Lisa Vanderpump: This upscale eatery offers a unique twist on modern American cuisine.
Wolfgang Puck: Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Spago Las Vegas, and Lupo Las Vegas.
Here are a few of my favorite burgers and steakhouses in Vegas:
If you're looking for something other than burgers and steak, I highly recommend:
Sushi-mon for all-you-can-eat sushi
Tacos El Gordo for Taco Tuesday
Market Street Café in the California Hotel and Casino for late-night oxtail soup. SOUP? Yes, Soup! It's so good!
Last but not least, my all-time Las Vegas favorite is The Oyster Bar at Palace Station, which offers 24/7 seafood. No matter what time you go, there is likely to be a line. A pro tip is to go with three people: one person stays in line, while the other two go and play Blackjack. By the time the seats are ready, whoever is winning pays for dinner.
The Oyster Bar
2411 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89102
The Oyster Bar at Palace Station is my favorite place to go for a delicious seafood feast. I highly recommend the oysters on the half-shell, which are served fresh and briny. The Caesar salad is also excellent. The combination of shrimp, crab, and lobster in a pan roast or a gumbo, both hearty and satisfying, served with rice. And of course, no seafood meal is complete without a cold and refreshing draft beer.
One of the only seafood restaurants in Las Vegas open round-the-clock, hidden-gem oyster bar offers live-action dishes prepared before your eyes—including steamed clams, freshly shucked oysters, homemade chowders, and seafood pasta. Whether you’re seeking soul-warming gumbo and a great glass of wine or fresh-as-ever oysters and an ice-cold beer, our first-come-first-serve oyster bar restaurant has something fresh for you.
I worked as a web developer and graphic designer for CardPlayer magazine, based in Las Vegas. I redesigned and maintained the website, created many ads and graphics for the website, and designed covers and full-page ads for the magazine, which were available in poker rooms all across the country.
Here are a few poker strategy tips:
Set a budget and stick to it. Don't ever gamble money that you can't afford to lose. If you're playing with rent money, you're playing with too much money.
Check-raise often. Check-raising is when one player checks the hand on the flop, another player bets, and then the original player comes back over the top with a raise. It's a very effective play. If it was up to me I would change the name of the game to Check-Raise Poker!
Be aware of your table image. Your table image is how other players perceive you. If you're known as a loose player, they'll be more likely to call your raises. If you're known as a tight player, they'll be more likely to fold to your bets.
Quoting the movie Rounders, "If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker."
Poker is a game of chance, and even the best players will go on losing streaks. If you're not winning, don't try to chase your losses. Take a break, clear your head, and come back to the game when you're feeling refreshed.
According to a quick online search, there are 31 poker rooms in the Las Vegas area. I used to spend 4-5 days a week playing $5-$10 or $10-$20 No Limit Hold'em at Bellagio or the Palms. I also played tournament poker frequently at The Orleans and South Point. Today, I play the stock market instead. I find it to be much more rewarding!
Professional Sports in Las Vegas
Las Vegas has transformed itself from a city shunned by professional sports to a major destination for sporting events. The city is now home to the NFL Raiders, the UFC, the WNBA Aces, NHL Golden Knights, and the upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix. These teams and events have helped to make Las Vegas a major player in the world of professional sports.
Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix. The Strip transformed into a race track (Monte Carlo-style), spanning nearly four miles with competitors approaching speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. The race takes place at night with 50 laps surrounded by the neon glow of Las Vegas.
Racing down the Strip at more than 200 mph? How sick is that?
The Raiders, the fans, the Raiderettes, and the Allegiant stadium are all part of what makes the Las Vegas Raiders one of the most popular teams. My favorite player to watch, #98 'Mad' Max Crosby is an inspiration to many. He overcame drug addiction and is now a star in the NFL. He has been to the Pro Bowl twice and is a force to be reckoned with on the field. His tattoos are a reminder of his journey and his commitment to staying sober. He is a role model for young people and shows that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Las Vegas is the fight capital of the world, and the UFC is the premier mixed martial arts organization. The UFC has held many events in Las Vegas, and the city is the headquarters for the organization. I'll never forget my first UFC fight. It was UFC 108 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and I was there to see Rashad Evans take on Thiago Silva. I'd been a fan of the UFC for years, but watching the fights on TV was nothing like being there in person. The energy in the arena was electric, and the crowd was going crazy.
Not only is Vegas a hockey town, but it’s also a championship town. Vegas Golden Knights won the 2023 Stanley Cup Final!
The Aces are a member of the WNBA and have been one of the most successful teams in the league since their inception. They have made the playoffs in each of their first four seasons and have won two championships.
Showgirls and Raiderettes? Way to go Las Vegas! 👏👏👏 The Raiderettes are a group of inspiring and talented women who bring joy to fans everywhere. They are a true asset to the Raiders organization and the city of Las Vegas. Get to know the Raiderettes by checking out their Raiderette Bios. I was pretty amazed by their beauty, confidence, and incredible dancing and performance skills. Some of these women have been dancing at a high level their entire lives.
The Oakland Athletics have been in discussions about moving to Las Vegas for several years, and it appears that the move is finally happening. The team has signed a binding purchase agreement for land near the Las Vegas Strip, where they plan to build a new stadium. The move is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
The A's move to Las Vegas is a sign of the growing popularity of baseball in the United States. The sport has been on a steady decline in recent years, but it is showing signs of a comeback. The A's move to Las Vegas is a major step in the right direction for baseball, and it is sure to help the sport grow in popularity in the years to come.
JA watching the A's in Oakland