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by Ashley Adams

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Labyrinth of Avarice

After spending a substantial amount of time within the milieu of Las Vegas, I've come to the conclusion that partying and gambling as a temporary visitor in Sin City is a million times more enjoyable than living there for work, particularly during the two months in the middle of summer when the World Series of Poker is underway. I understand the plight of the unfortunate souls who have to toil in resort towns or other holiday hotspots as the resentment builds against those they have to serve and be around daily... tourists.

I travel frequently for both work and pleasure and spent the last three years on the road following the poker tournament circuit. I prefer hanging out with travelers more than tourists. There's a vast difference between a traveler and tourist and if you have to ask me to clarify that gap, then I'm afraid that you're a tourist in life.

Sadly, after living in Las Vegas on and off over the last three years, I have grown frustrated with the slew of slackjawed and slow-walking tourists that flood the Strip. I witnessed a super ugly incident one morning around 9 a.m., the nasty hour where the early risers clash with the skewed populous on the tail end of their all night benders. I stayed in a room at a cheap Strip hotel and headed to work for an assignment at the Bellagio. In order to leave my hotel, I fought my way through a dense jungle of slot machines and table games to clear the labyrinth of avarice.

In front of the Wheel of Fortune slots, a middle aged woman with fake nails was missing one black flip flop. She screamed incessantly at the top of her lungs. Her verbal tirade was directed at a hagged-out waitress wearing a onesize- too-large pink cocktail dress. It was more than obvious that the woman had been up all night drinking. The waitress decided that the woman was too inebriated and cut her off. As soon as the waitress refused service, the tourist got right in her face and screamed, "Where's my @#$%&! Bud Light?"

The waitress walked away in the most amazing display of Buddhist tolerance and patience that I had seen in a very long time. Then again, she might not be religious, just jacked up on diazepam. Everyone's high in Las Vegas. If you're not high, you're looking to get high. People don't fly out to the middle of the desert and visit Las Vegas not to get off somehow. Otherwise they would have gone to see Mt. Rushmore instead.

Whenever I'm in Las Vegas, I escape to the outskirts of the city into the gated suburbs of Henderson and Summerlin in a desperate attempt to avoid the hordes of slow walking mobs and soused oafs that pillage and clutter the Strip 24 hours a day. I prefer the seclusion and more laid back atmosphere of locals' casinos. It's easier to get to the poker room without having to get stuck in the middle of a frat boy convention.

It's tough to work inside a casino when you're a completely degenerate gambler. At every moment you are inside that very casino, you want to play poker, throw dice, bet on games, drink at the local hooker bar, and donk off a few bucks at the Pai Gow tables. I love writing but having to work inside a haven for the majority of my vices for 16 hours a day is an eternal struggle. My inner action junkie often spends my paycheck before I can even cash it!

Ah, and when I'm sick of Las Vegas, I'm grateful for the invention of online poker. I can stay at home and play without getting stuck in traffic driving to the Strip or dealing with a flock of drunken tourists. If you are not a people person and have a tremendous fear of large crowds, then online poker might be right up your alley.

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