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For that split second you really feel in Vegas.
The gates of Sin City open.
There is only the green table, the croupier and a card.

And the show restarts in an emotional escalation until you are back to that second of gambling.

I could count how many bolivian lunch-sets or ecuadorian hostel-nights are piled up in plastic fiches. But the bad thoughts just don’t enter Vegas.

The waitress in black babydoll and black stockings exchanges my half drunk whiskey-coke-and-lime with a new one and I remind her to switch to something lighter, maybe a Corona.
Drinks are free and one dollar tip is enough to gather full attention. Ice cubes clink and I am the only one who read the book of black jack here.

There are three ways to play:
– card counting. Illegal and damn complicated;
– play with the basic strategy. The result of computer simulations shows the right play in every situation for a 43% of winning loooong term;
– cowboy mode, world’s most used techinque was invented here in the desert of Nevada. Follow your guts and drink plenty.

Cathy and Lucy from Chicago are not too clear about the rules but are killing it at the first two seats. Hezio is having a blast and doubling at number three.
The table is hot BANG-BANG it’s me at number four and finally a black guy with a huge clock smoking a cigar because Viva Las Vegas.

The beauty of Black Jack is that everyone plays in a David tag-team against Goliath, the casino.
The cheering is high, everyone high-fives when a player pulls a 21. You can be loud, ask for help and talk sports with the croupier.

I only gamble a couple of times a year and when in Vegas.
I am sitting at the $5 table at Hard Rock Casino for the thrill of that covered card.

Everything in Vegas aims to make you have a good time and feel comfortable.
In the morning it’s the soft beds of the Hard Rock Hotel suite and the speakers in the three-persons shower.
In the afternoons it’s the stunning barthenders at the pool-party, rocking skinny bikinis and perfect Nevada sunkissed skins.
They can smell we are not premium customers but they give us a free smile with the aluminium bottles.
Music pumps, electronic and hip-hop, everyone is dancing and loving it. The inflatables fly around in a hectic dodgeball game.
Sand on the bottom of the pool and polished palmtrees on the side.

At night there is music for any taste and international artists playing everywhere. The rooftops open on the strip and the leds never go off.

It is perfectly normal to wake up a little dazed in a valley of red plastic cups. Reluctantly pack the bags while wondering why you cannot just live in a place like this.

Downtown is the last instagram of our Vegas Experience.
Here stand the oldest casinos. Leds are substituted with colored bulbs. The waitresses are a little worned-down and the turists come out of a 90s video with fluffy hairdos and sun-visors.

The bus station is a few steps away with our dreams of California.
We got lucky today.

I am going to sit at the blackjack table again.
In a foreign land and with perfect strangers.

But it is never gonna be like Vegas.

For once it is not a natural paradise.
Here it’s sand and dust all around and it never rains.

But where Mother Nature didn’t quite cut it, the dollars made it possible.

Viva Las Vegas