I'm well into my third decade of coming to Las Vegas on a regular basis, anywhere from once to four times a year, depending on assignments and schedule. I usually stay away from the Strip, at joints that cater to locals. I need neither the glitz, the crowds nor the bad blackjack rules and weak video poker pay tables of the Strip.
This is a six-night stay, and it's the first three that give me a chance to play a little. I have meetings and tasks to attend to, but quite a bit of free time. So I'm at Sam's Town. I mentioned the full-pay Deuces Wild, but Sam's also has 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker and 10-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, both 100 percent games with expert play.
I also played some blackjack, two decks, hand-shuffled, face-down game where the blackjacks paid 3-2 instead of the 6-5 abominations you find on the Strip. The dealer asked what brought me to town, and I said a trade show. When he asked which one and I told him Global Gaming Expo, he replied, "That's a big show. I'd think you'd want to be on the Strip." I told him I never stay on the Strip, I've been coming to Vegas ... and he finished my sentence. "You've been coming for decades and you don't need the Strip. Yeah, we see that."
It was a little confusing for the young woman at the Enterprise desk at the car rental center, though. She asked where I was staying and whether I needed a map. I told her I'd be at Sam's Town, and knew my way if she could tell me the shortest way out of the rental center to eastbound Flamingo. She gave me the three-right-turns directions that take you to the Strip, Las Vegas Boulevard. I told her I was trying to avoid Las Vegas Boulevard, and she looked confused.
A second person, a 30ish man, walked me to the car to inspect it before I drove away. He also asked if I needed directions. This time, I was more specific. I said, "I'm staying at Sam's Town. Is one of the turns out of here Warm Springs?" He said, "Warm Springs is your second right. Then ... "
I stopped him and asked another question. "If I turn left on Warm Springs instead of right, can I then take a left on Eastern to get to Flamingo east?" He paused for a second, and said, "Yes, in fact that'll probably be a lot faster."