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Jesse May

Playing in Las Vegas is easy. Winning there is easier still. But leaving Las Vegas with money is one of the most difficult gambling traps known to man. I went broke the first twenty times I went to Las Vegas. Stone cold minimum. Cashing in souvenir chips for blackjack money, sleeping every two days in a twenty dollar motel room and loading up on graveyard eggs. Las Vegas can be brutal. But the town will change for you once you've left Las Vegas with money. Make no mistake. Las Vegas is not easy. But it is worth it. Here are my top five Las Vegas tips.

1. Sleep on them
2. Have a pit rule
3. Don't mix gambling with partying
4. Scout the lineup
5. Quit a loser

1. Sleep on them - Most overseas visitors to Las Vegas have never encountered 24 hour gambling up close. Brits are used to the casino closing at four am and everyone going home. It just ain't like that in Las Vegas, where a good game can last four days or more with the same players. In a 24 hour town like Las Vegas, mental freshness can be your biggest asset, and the best thing you can do is to sleep on them. You walk into the poker room at midnight after dinner and a few drinks and spy a cooking Hold'em game in the corner that you figure to be a slight favorite in. Now comes the important concept. That poker game will be better in four hours. Go upstairs, set your alarm for 4am, and sleep on them. When you've jumped in the shower and entered the poker room at 4:30 am with wet hair and chomping at the bit, you have gone from being a slight favorite in the game to an overwhelming one. The game has gotten better, the winners have left, the losers are four hours more drunk and tired, and you are fresh as a daisy and ready to mow them down. You will never make as much money in Las Vegas as when you sleep on them.

2. Have a pit rule - They don't call it the pit for nothing. There might as well be a hundred guys standing around with axes and guns. The pit is the most sharpshooting bankroll sniper that has ever been. On the other hand, it's an established fact that craps is the most entertaining pastime on the face of the earth not involving artificial stimulants. It's a clever paradox, and one that must be negotiated in Las Vegas. The number of people who have pledged to play only poker and then lost their entire bankroll during one session trying to get even at the blackjack table is legendary, astronomical. It happens to everybody until you come to grips. You must set a rule for the pit games and stick to it. Maybe your rule is no pit games at all, maybe it's a $50 blackjack session once a day, maybe it's a c-note at craps in the morning. Whatever it is, make a pit game rule and stick to it. Because nobody that ever got stuck into the pit games left Las Vegas with money.

3. Don't mix gambling with partying - Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, bar none. But mixing gambling with partying is a dangerous equation. Here is the optimum schedule in Las Vegas - Sleep, gamble, eat, party, sleep. It works. There is a lot of fun to be had in Las Vegas without gambling. The best idea is to leave your gambling bankroll in the safe and take a few bucks for fun. That way you also won't be susceptible to the rare but killer disease known as stripper tilt, which has seen men losing their entire gambling bankrolls at the Olympic Gardens strip club. Pitiful, really.

4. Scout the lineup - This is not your local cardroom, where every face is familiar or friendly. In Las Vegas, the lineup can change from nine fish to five sharks quicker than boo. You must always be aware of who you're playing with and how they're playing. And always be willing to change tables to a better game. It should be an obsession to get in the best game in the house. In Las Vegas poker rooms, what you are playing never matters so much as who you are playing with.

5. Quit a loser - No one has ever survived in Las Vegas without quitting a game a loser. If you're not willing to quit a loser, then every session is a potential bankroll buster. Make it your goal to quit a game while losing at least once during your stay. You'll appreciate it later.

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