by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
Las Vegas Nevada is a fun city. I well remember my first trip there. It was back when your grocery store choices were Red Owl, Country Club Market, Super Valu, or Piggly Wiggly. I flew to Las Vegas on a three day package which included airfare and a hotel stay at the Thunderbird for around $150.00. The Thunderbird was a two story motor hotel behind a casino of the same name. It was on the strip, across from the Stardust, the Frontier, the Westward Ho, Circus Circus, and Slots a Fun. We walked up the strip and made stops at the Flamingo Capri, the first hotel casino built on Las Vegas Boulevard, Caesars Palace, the Castaways, The Sands, Desert Inn, the Aladdin, The MGM, and saw a revue show at the Marina. It was a trip to remember, especially after I hit a $400 jackpot on a nickel slot machine. Most table games were offered for a one dollar minimum bet. You could get a huge breakfast almost anywhere for $.99, and a prime rib dinner for $4.95.
I have reminisced on these pages in the past about trips to the Showboat for tournaments. I remember the first time I brought bowling equipment to Las Vegas. Showboat Hotel, Casino, and Lanes. I was awestruck by the building with 106 bowling lanes under one roof. There were 70 in one section and 36 around the corner, and you could not go from one area to the other without stopping at the ice cream counter for a chocolate malt. NABI and ABT both held annual events there, and I became an annual visitor. It seemed that each visit, another casino had been imploded and a new one took its place. I watched with awesome interest as the MGM Grand, the Luxor, Mirage, Treasure Island, New York New York, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Paris, took the place of the friendly casinos in my visit, and buffets took the place of the .99 breakfasts and low price prime rib dinners.
Time flies and I woke up in 2013 realizing that I had not been to Las Vegas for 14 years. The company from which I retired was having their annual reunion for retirees this month, so my wife and I packed our bags and away we went. All I can say is “Holy Cow”. The previous huge hotels that I watched being built, like Treasure Island, Bellagio, and others, have now been totally dwarfed by the Aria, Wynn, and Encore. I cannot believe that hotel buildings can be built that high. I would hate to have a room on the top floor. It would probably be a 12 minute elevator ride. Our event was held at the Orleans, a very nice 20 story hotel about a mile off the strip. I was surprised in the elevator that there was a button to stop at the 13th floor. Luckily we were on 14. There were live table games with $5 and $10 minimums, but I was intrigued by a console of a craps game. This was not video craps that some of the local casinos have had, but it had live dice in a cage, and paid table odds on one dollar minimum bets. The machine was fun at lower stakes and I saw them in nearly every casino we visited. I suppose casinos like them to keep payroll down. I did visit the second floor of the Orleans. They have a beautiful 70 lane bowling center. I did not bowl (maybe next year?) but it was very modern with Brunswick pinsetters, scoring equipment, and settee furnishings. There were also about 6 sets of bleachers behind the settees. I am surprised that we have not seen the PBA there yet. If you are headed west to Vegas, I would definitely recommend the Orleans. Good Luck!