Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The lure of Las Vegas and gambling close to home

 Framed by the glitzy hotels of the world's greatest
gambling city, Cookie and Keller enjoy a night out! 
STORY BY CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS BY WILLIAM KELLER

I have a confession to make.  
My name is Cookie and I love Las Vegas. I adore casinos.
I've visited gorgeous ones in Monte Carlo, in London's Mayfair district, in the Dutch Antilles and Macau.
The glitter of Las Vegas easily seduces me and I love playing my way up and down the strip -- from the Mirage to the Venetian, with sidetrips to Mandalay Bay, Paris,  Bellagio, New York, New York.  My game? Usually video poker.
I like sitting in a glitzy casino sipping a coffee, cranberry or cocktail and taking my chances with lady luck. Looking forward to seeing Cher, Bette Midler or one of the variety shows. I love remembering the old circular Sands Hotel, and the greats I saw there: Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra.
I've introduced casino hotels to many members of my family and have had lots of fun on casino ships with my brother Rick and my late husbands, Bruce Meyers and Bill Jones.  Both Bruce and Billy were good blackjack players.  Bruce, in fact, paid for our tips and wine bill on an Atlantic crossing on the Queen Elizabeth II, with his blackjack wins.
 Cookie held a single ace -- and got four!
I prefer video poker. For some reason, the game attracts far more women than men.
Perhaps we all love the symmetry of a straight, the cohesiveness of a flush, the delight in four aces and the thrill of that elusive big bopper of the video poker arcade:  the royal flush.
I'm working on the "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" technique. And I'm improving.
The time to cash in is when you're ahead (a large "duh" from the audience.)  Sometimes the timing is wrong, though.  If you win immediately when you arrive, for instance, that's not good. Now what are you going to do?
 The MGM Grand's signature lions look out on the glorious Vegas strip.
As Bugsey Siegel knew, gambling is time honored. Ah, Las Vegas.  As long as I'm not using the mortgage money or shortchanging the children (wait, I don't have children), I'm okay. And the Yorkies still have plenty of clothes.
As I write this, we're nestled in a beautiful suite at Harrah's Rincon Casino Resort, a lovely property about ninety minutes from San Diego.
It's close enough for an easy weekend drive, and yet not so near that we are tempted to visit every day.
We love Las Vegas, but a quick trip there involves a plane ride. Two reasons we are loyal to Harrah's: Proximity to San Diego. And pups are welcome for a small charge.
 Harrah's Rincon offers patio rooms with a mountain view.
Rooms in the Garden Tower wing of this lovely landscaped resort are dog friendly, and the pups are greeted by a doggie fairy who delivers treats of biscuits, a designer bag for pick-ups, and a silver water bowl with a non-skid, non-stick bottom.
Keller just stopped by the window of the Palomar Suite, enroute back after walking the doggies. Yes, I realize upgrades in casino hotels are not really "free" -- we've paid for them with our play.
But Harrah's provides a reasonably priced get-away for us with breaks on the room with our Total Rewards points.
Keller said the Yorkies made new friends on their stroll -- a bassett hound and an Australian shepherd, both accompanied by their owners, taking a break from the gaming action on the floor.
We're planning a return to Las Vegas, where we can stay in Total Rewards sister properties involved in the collaboration.
We're considering Caesar's, a favorite of mine for forty years with our favorite showroom.
And we'll rack up more points towards our passage from "Gold" to "Diamond" status, which means we'll be eligible for more upgrades, more perks, more points.
 Harrah's Rincon Casino Resort welcomes Nick and Nora.
I get it that the more we play, the more we risk losing, and the more the casinos make.The casinos are flourishing. Harrah's Rincon is building a new tower! People will always spend money to take chances on winning.
Perhaps the reason is the same one that explained why people in the Great Depression spent money on movies and treated themselves to a bite to eat.
They wanted to have a little fun, to lighten their load.
I really don't have much to lighten.
Knock wood.
Lights, lure of Las Vegas -- from the sky bridge connecting
MGM Grand with New York, New York.
I have a wonderful partner, a good life in two states, beloved Yorkies, a loving family, truly devoted friends, nature's beauty to greet me in both Montana and California, my native and adopted states.
But I get a rush walking down the strip, gazing at the fake Eifel Tower, the skyline of a fake New York, the turrets of Excalibur, the majestic lions at MGM Grand, a recent favorite.
And I'm at home here in Harrah's Palomar Suite, with two giant flat screen TVs, tasteful art, a couch big enough for my entire family and a bathroom big enough to hide in (with mirrors that tell me more about my face than I want to know.)
Gotta go now. Time to register for my slot in a
 Keller reviewing his four deuces says: "I've won and I've lost
 while casino hopping with Cookie. Winning's better."
tournament.  And Keller just hit the jackpot: four deuces and a win that will make a big dent in his next Montana ticket.  Hope springs eternal in the gambler's breast.
COMING: The great theater town of San Diego boasts many gems, including Cygnet, located in Old Town. We take a look at the upcoming, adventurous season and check out wine tasting, too. Remember to explore, learn and live! And check our Wednesday and Saturday postings at:
www.whereiscookie.com

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