Four down and one to go

I just got back from my annual nine-day trip to Las Vegas. I know 9 days is too long. Not for me, as in the words of Dean Martin “I love Vegas, when I leave I shed a tear. Well I shed many tears on this trip. This trip like the many before, I saw a different Vegas when I got there and a much different Vegas when I left.

Back in 1960, Frank Sinatra made Ocean’s 11, the first of the “Rat Pack” (and the best) movies. Sorry folks George Clooney is NOT Danny Ocean that is Frank’s role. The movie takes place in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve. Danny Ocean and his pals rob the FIVE MOST GLAMAROUS CASINO’S ON THE LAS VEGAS STRIP, which were:

  • Flamingo
  • Sands
  • Desert Inn
  • Riviera
  • Sahara

Over the years as Vegas has changed these five glorious casinos faded from glory. It is very difficult to stay relevant in Vegas, the only casino to do it for 50 years is Caesars Palace and god bless them for it. Over the years I watched the Sands be imploded and the Venetian be built in its place. Not one spot in that hotel do they mention that this was the spot the Summit was performed (the Summit for those who don’t know was what Frank called the performances be him, Dean, Sammy, Joey, and Peter) and I say shame on them.

Then it was Steve Wynn’s turn to blow up the Dessert Inn and build the Wynn and Encore. Now the Wynn is a magnificent property, but why not call it “Steve Wynn’s Dessert Inn” as Wilbur Clarke once called it “Wilbur Clarke’s Dessert Inn”.

Then in May 2011, I got to say goodbye to my favorite casino of all time THE SAHARA. To me the Sahara was more than a casino it was my west coast home. Never before did I feel more comfortable in a casino then I did at the Sahara. That day in May as I walked the strip to play my last time at the Sahara I began to shed some tears. I though of the countless nights playing black jack with my brother and my wife and the fun we had. I thought of all the meals at Caravan Café and the House of Lords Steakhouse. I won that day only $200 bucks, but as I left that crowed hotel, I turned as I got into the cab and said “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES OLD GIRL”. Today the SLS stands where my Sahara did and I can say that the SLS may be the WORST casino I ever went to and look forward to the day they go bankrupt and they will.

Once the Sahara closed, I moved to the next best Casino I know the Riviera or THE RIV. The Riviera was a great casino, it was there I met Coline a dealer at the Riv for over 50 years. On Sunday May 3rd, I played black jack for the last time at the Riv, because on May 4th at noon they closed their doors for good. On Monday the 4th my good friend Dan showed up around 10am to the Riv, all the tables games were closed so we sat at the bar with about 100 or so other folks just to enjoy one last drink at the bar. They were serving us Jack Daniels for $1.50 a shot. We laughed and cried with everyone. At about 5 minutes to noon the announcement came “THE RIVIERA WILL BE CLOSING IN 5 MINUTES”. We sat in our bar stools and finished our drinks. Five minutes later the tragic announcement ‘THE RIVIERA IS OFFICALLY CLOSED, PLEASE MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE NEAREST EXIT”. We sat for a few minutes until Security told us to leave. As we walked towards the front door snapping as many pictures as we could. Security stopped us and said to go out the back. We noticed that all the doors were changed shut. As we walked out side they were setting the posts for the temp fence to seal the place off. It was a sad scene, as we got into the cab I turned and said “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES OLD GIRL”.

Four down and one to go! The Flamingo the oldest of the Grand Casino’s and the only one left.   Caesars own the Flamingo, which is a big help. The Flamingo was part of a big plan to blow up everything from Bally’s to Harrah’s and destroy the Flamingo and build a Center City type complex. That was the plan in 2007, but 2008 the money dried up and plans were changes. Imperial Palace and Bill’s Gaming House were destroyed and the Flamingo was saved. From the looks of it the Flamingo should be around for a long time, but things change fast in Las Vegas so you never can be so sure.

Today the three oldest casino’s on the Las Vegas Strip are The Flamingo 1947, Tropicana 1957, Caesars Palace 1966. All three are vintage Vegas at its best, I would suggest that if you plan a trip to Las Vegas stop by these three Icons, because you never know when the wrecking ball is coming.

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