The House Always Wins

by Thomas Emmet

This story is part of our 'Funniest hotel experiences' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition. Photo by Nigel Wilson


I was twenty five years of age and travelling with a friend on what we christened "Tour of America 2005". Ireland’s Celtic Tiger was in its burgeoning stage and banks were readily parting with funds to the common man at cheap interest rates. We were no exception and we were common.

"Welcome to Las Vegas. We hope you enjoy your stay. The Bellboy will take your bags." We were astonished at this level of service. We shouldn’t have been - this was quite normal for hotels but our limited experience involved bringing our own bags to our two-star rooms and packing them with free mini-shampoos.

We had heard rumours that in Vegas they pumped pure oxygen into the rooms to keep people awake so that they’d avoid the effects of jetlag and constantly gamble. On entering our 22nd floor room we noticed that the air conditioning was pumping out the coolness already. This only added to our suspicion that The Flamingo Hilton was already out to get us.

On the first night I awoke at 3am. I was convinced it was the abundance of oxygen in the room. I proceded to the casino with two five-dollar chips and returned to my room eighty dollars richer. I was up! My friend walked past a lottery wheel in the lobby - placed a five dollar bet on number 22 and won one hundred of the finest American dollars. We discovered that dropping the occasional quarter into the machines gave the impression of gambling and a saucy cocktail waitresses would approach, cawing "Cocktails?" – "Two Whiskey Sours please!"

They were, of course, free and all in the effort to get two Irish lads to part with their money. It wasn’t working and we felt like the shrewdest people to ever set foot into this oasis. We had beaten the house!

Check out was a happy affair. We thanked the staff for their hospitality. We agreed that the heat had subsided towards the end of the week and we cheerfully told them of our plans to visit Hollywood for the weekend. We were then presented with the bill.

A couple of evenings before checkout we had rung a couple of friends of ours. The earth, spinning and tilting as it does inhibited us from actually getting through and we left a few quick voice messages. They were all quite similar in that they were of the two of us boasting of the fact that we were there and our friends weren’t. "Hello Jerry, we’re in Vegas and it’s brilliant. Enjoy work!" That particular one was the cheapest coming in at approximately one hundred of the finest American dollars. The other three retailed at about two hundred dollars a piece.

We paid up. Stunned. The staff laughed. They quipped that we Irish "sure like to keep in touch".

A tall, stetsoned Texan was checking out to our left. He leaned toward us and whispered "The House always wins."

I’d go back in the morning.

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