Fun on the strip

Going to Vegas? Here is a guide for degenerates

There is no shortage of fun to be had on the Vegas strip. Getty Images

Las Vegas is kind of a home away from home for me. The station sends us on several trips a year for major fights, and I have gone countless times for poker and horse racing tournaments over the years.

The shootings that happened Oct. 1 were beyond horrific. Our hearts go out to everyone involved. I had several friends at the concert and know the area very well. It was sad, tragic and awful.

If you have a trip set up and still plan to go, there is no shortage of things to do. Consult this guide if you 1) are going for the first time, 2) have not been in a while, or c) have been many times but want to try something different. This isn't meant to be all-inclusive. This is just a look at the places I like to go when I am there. (I have a strong preference for the MGM properties).

My trips to Vegas are pretty routine. Usually I get in late and catch a 10 pm-midnight poker tournament somewhere, then get in a run on the strip in the morning, followed by a morning poker tournament and some horse/sports book time. Then we do the show, rinse and repeat. I always stay on the strip, and I don't do clubs or strip bars.

I will be adding an NHL game or two to the routine now that the Golden Knights are a reality. That T Mobile Arena is an absolute palace.

With all that in mind, here is a list of must-dos for the degenerates in all of us:

Food and beer

There is no shortage of overpriced, average food on the strip. You can pretty much assume any restaurant poking out of a casino on the strip is going to have bad service, cost too much and have average food. There are, however, some exceptions:

Burger Bar, Mandalay Bay. I hit this place up a couple times per trip. The burgers are excellent and a fair price for what you get. They also have an outstanding beer collection. My favorite lunch/dinner spot in Vegas.

Peppermill. You have seen it in countless movies, most notably Casino. Fantastic, old-school atmosphere. It's a great breakfast place, but the lines on weekends are ridiculous, so if you can, go during the week. Order one omelette for two people — they are massive. It's at the far end of the Trump side of the strip, so quite the walk from MGM Grand, where we usually stay. But there is a monorail that will get you there.

Hooters. Before you laugh, they have a $9.99 prime rib special. It is very solid for the price and a nice, inexpensive supper option.

Public House, The Venetian. Another place with an outstanding beer collection and really decent food. A little overpriced but this is the best place on that end of the strip.

Gallaghers, New York York. This is an excellent high-end steak house. It's actually very affordable for what you get and makes a nice date night place.

Beerhaus. A new addition near T Mobile Arena. They offer a really good beer menu and decent food.

Race and sports books

In truth, any strip casino is going to have a good race and sports book. If you have a choice, however, and don't mind walking, these are my five favorites:

Moneyline, Park MGM. Brand new, this place is awesome. It is a perfect sports bar with betting and you can catch all the games. A must on that side of the strip.

Lagasse's Stadium, Venetian. This is simply a palace and a terrific place to watch college football or the NFL. Warning: Get there early. It fills up fast. They also have a second sports book in the Venetian that is amazing as well.

Mandalay Bay. I spend a lot of time at this casino between the Burger Bar and the poker room. The race and sports book is first-class and well worth your time.

MGM Grand. An old-school, quality book, this is where I have spent most of my time over the years. Also, if you have a wagering ticket, you get complimentary drinks. Many places have gone to the method of giving a drink coupon for a certain amount bet. That doesn't really impact me — I bet enough races to stay flush on drink tickets — but it can be a pain. You don't have to worry about that at MGM.

Bally's. If you are a horse player, Bally's book is for you. It's an old-school setup but it is heaven if you are betting on the ponies. A lot of places shuffle the horse players off into a corner. Not Bally's.

Excalibur. This one is a little underrated. They do have the drink coupons, which is a pain, but the staff is friendly and it is right next to the poker room, so you can get some bets in while playing cards.

Poker rooms

Like sports books, almost every casino on the strip has one, and it just depends on what you are looking for. I generally like to play tournaments, but because of our show schedule we are usually unable to play anything but small dollar tourneys ($40-$85). Cardplayer has a daily schedule of tournaments you can check out here.

When I play cash in Vegas, it is almost exclusively the 2-5 at MGM Grand.

For years, the Bellagio was the place to be. At one time they had daily $500 tournaments and a $1,000 on Friday. They have scaled that back. They now have a daily $125 tournament at 5 pm, which is still very good (unfortunately the show ends at 5 pm so I never get to play them). The Wynn also has some nice tournaments from $125-$225 buy-ins.

For late-night tourneys, it depends on which end of the strip you are on. If you are on the MGM side, then you have lots of options. The MGM has two tourneys a night with good structure. Excalibur has an underrated tournament. Mandalay Bay has a 10 pm $65 buy-in that usually only draws 10-12 players so it is essentially a sit 'n' go (and easy money).

On the other side of the strip, Venetian has two poker tournaments daily at noon and 7 pm with buy-ins ranging from $125-$300.

Usually I will bounce between MGM, Mandalay and Excalibur when on that side of the strip and Venetian on the other. Golden Nugget has a nice room, as does Aria, but I have rarely stayed either place.

Good luck on your next trip.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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