Vegas -- Downtown Lights
LAS VEGAS -- A pink neon flame flickers and advertises prime rib for The Flame restaurant. Nearby, the Nevada Hotel says it has vacancy.
Only problem is, both the restaurant and hotel have seen much better days. Only the neon signs remain.
It's part of the Neon Museum, an open-air exhibit to Las Vegas' fleeting past, and one of the many things that I love about downtown.
For one thing, it's walkable. Probably nowhere else in the world do you get this kind of density of casinos all on one strip. There's Binions. The Golden Nugget. The Fremont, the Four Queens and on and on.
I love the way Binion's has that saloon-kind of atmosphere. When I first came to Las Vegas, it still had mechanical-reel slots. And I'm not talking about the Double Diamond slots. I'm talking about the old bar-bell-and cherry machines.
I wandered around to the poker room. I didn't find a game but I was happy that it had lots of activity. $2/4 limit was open. No thank you.
I wandered down to the Coffee Shop, which is one of my favorite places to eat in Vegas. I loved how I could get an entire meal for just under $10. On the Strip, my meals have run about $24 a pop.
At the Lady Luck, a bank of slots have replaced the "good" video poker machines that I used to play, right next to the sportsbook, which consists of a giant whiteboard with handwritten notations on it, unlike the ginormous "Mission Control"-style banks of television displays and electronic game readouts.
These days, I spend most of my poker time on The Strip, as that's where most of the traffic is and that's where the fishy games are. But downtown is where I won -- and lost -- my first money. It will always be dear to me and I'm looking forward to the time when it gets its chance to dust itself off and present itself anew.