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Vegas view

las-vegas-view.jpgBusiness took me to The Strip yesterday. It seems to change every time I see it, no matter how often I am there. My last visit to The Strip was only two months ago, yet the pace of endless demolition and re-construction means that there are always changes. From the upper floors of The Venetian hotel the view was pretty good, even with a cloud of yellow haze on the horizon that obscured the mountains.

Las Vegas almost defies definition. It is a circle of suburbs surrounding a sprawling city, which in turns surrounds a strange little bizarro world called The Strip. When I try to explain it to people, I can’t grab a hold of it in any single sentence. Just the mammoth scale of the hotels is almost unbelievable. Most of the largest hotels in the world are here, with over 4000 rooms each. The billions of dollars being exchanged in the casinos are another incredible thing, and it is all characterized by the ostentatious decor, fabulous signs, and incredible excess in all things.

When I’m in town on business I try to put mental blinders on and focus on what I’m doing rather than the scenery of The Strip, lest it overwhelm me. But little things pricked my consciousness all day like tiny mosquitoes. For example, the parking garage at The Venetian is 13 stories tall. I’ve never parked my car on the 12th story of a building before.

It’s also virtually impossible to go in a straight line anywhere near The Strip. Each hotel has worked out ingenious barriers and alignments that direct you inevitably into the casino. A simple walk down Las Vegas Boulevard isn’t so simple now, and hasn’t been for two decades. I find it an intriguing challenge to work out the most direct routes between points A and B, but the quest to find those routes results in many blind alleys and missed turns. I got lost somewhere behind the new Wynn hotel, trying to find the Convention Center, and had to call Brian for directions.

You’ve got to love a street named for Frank Sinatra, or Debbie Reynolds, even if it is a rather grungy line of asphalt crowded with traffic. I think Las Vegas has hit on something there. Perhaps if we renamed a few of the less attractive streets in other cities after exalted stars from the entertainment world, we’d like them better. “Main Street”? It could be much more fun if called “Liberace Way.”

On Wednesday night we played the first poker home game. Brian and Leigh are teaching me the fundamentals of tournament-style poker. There will be more home games this weekend too. It is very interesting viewing poker through their eyes. They see it not as an emotional battle, as it is often portrayed in movies, but as a series of calculated decisions. The decision process is extremely complicated, involving card odds, format (cash or tournament), player experience, number of players, betting values and patterns, “tells,” and many other factors. Logic rules their play, and as a result they are very good.

I find the process interesting. It’s something like negotiation. You need to size up the opponent and the situation, then estimate your chance of winning in advance, and bet accordingly. If circumstances change, you need to respond quickly. For this reason, I am studying the skills and trying to see how they might fit into my business world. So it seems Las Vegas still has a few things to teach me.

One Response to “Vegas view”

  1. Bill Doyle Says:

    Remember, even the Earl of Sandwich took time to eat while playing poker.

    — The Plague Doctor