6 June 2012
my city: las vegas by josh egan
The poker player turned entrepreneur of local company Vitamin Gum, takes us through his former home in the city of sin.
Before playing his hand in the world of business, Josh Egan, one half of local start-up Vitamin Gum, was a travelling poker player participating in tournaments all over the world. After enjoying success on the European Poker Tour, including stops in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and London, Josh headed to Las Vegas for two months and over 20 tournaments to chase his dream of becoming the first New Zealander to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. Unfortunately the poker gods weren’t on his side this time, but the trip did allow Josh to discover some of the better spots in the city of sin. Here he shares some of his favourite places and some tips for ensuring you get the most out of any Vegas visit.
Naked Fish Sushi
I love sushi and every major Vegas hotel has a great Japanese restaurant on-site. But for me the best of the best is a 15 minute cab ride heading west from The Strip – Naked Sushi. A favourite of poker players and locals alike, Naked Sushi has a far more relaxed atmosphere than its more celebrated alternatives. Despite its low-key décor and location in a small strip-mall, Naked Sushi serves up everything you would expect from a top-notch Japanese restaurant and more at a very reasonable price and with no reservations needed. A perfect place to start before heading out into the madness that is the Vegas nightlife. Must tries – Bluefin Tuna Sashimi and the Jalapeno Yellowtail.
Poolside at The Palazzo
As Vegas cliché as it may be, there truly is nothing better for recovering from a long night out at the Vegas clubs or a tough day on the poker tables than lying poolside, basking in the Nevada sun and sipping on a Bloody Mary served up by a bikini-clad Vegas cocktail waitress. With several pool options, a great lunch menu and always-amusing people watching, poolside at The Palazzo was my favourite place to relax and recharge. A quick tip – you might be tempted to head to Rehab, an infamous pool party held every Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel. DON’T DO IT! It’s like Jersey Shore on crack. Enough said.
The perfect spot to celebrate a good day at the tables (or drown away the sorrows of a bad one!), Tryst nightclub at the Wynn hotel easily trumps all the other Vegas clubs. Featuring an impressive 90 foot waterfall and lake, perhaps the best thing about Tryst is that it’s one of the only clubs with open-air tables. I always prefer to be able to have a proper chat without having to yell in someone’s ear over the music. You’re also almost certain to bump into a few celebs on any given night at Tryst. Our first night there we had Lebron James on the table to our left and Xzibit on the table to our right, it took all our restraint to not turn into total fan-boys and try to spark up a convo with them both. Quick tip – no matter what club you plan to head to, always call ahead and speak to a host to book a table. It’s not cheap, but unless you don’t mind standing in line for at least an hour and then standing in a tight crowd all night, table service is a must to ensure an enjoyable time.
Getting out of the city – Grand Canyon and Golf
One week in Vegas is enough to drive anyone a little stir-crazy, let alone 2 months, so I always made it a goal to get away from The Strip at least once a week to explore the beautiful Nevada outdoors. Red Rock Country Club was a favourite of mine, a spectacular desert golf course set against the backdrop of the Nevada mountains on one side and the Vegas skyline on the other. We also made our way to the Grand Canyon a couple of times including a day-long hike, easily the best way to fully experience the incredible landscape and rugged natural terrain. But if you’re pressed for time your best bet is a tour by air. On the last day of our trip we jumped in a helicopter, flew over the impressive Hoover Dam, soared down through the canyon and landed at the bottom for a champagne breakfast. Perhaps a little too romantic for a couple of guys but breathtaking nonetheless!
No Vegas trip would be complete without at least one visit to one of the many strip clubs. The Spearmint Rhino is one of the most famous strip clubs in the world and the first choice of most in Vegas. But personally Cheetahs, an old school club in the same mould as the Bada Bing Club in The Sopranos, was much more fun. Less in your face than your typical strip joint, Cheetahs allows you to have a drink and chat while enjoying the ‘view’ without being hounded every two minutes by the ‘performers’.