The Shakedown

I've been coming to Vegas for a long time.

Even as a young man, I was impressed with its ability to separate you from your money. We used to joke about the cash-draining force-field that surrounds this city. Back in the day when I gambled, I once was  leaving town with $300 in my pocket. That seldom happens.

Then the car blew a tire, everyone else was broke, and I lost my winnings to an overpriced mechanic.

And that's the thing about Las Vegas. The shakedown can happen anywhere, at any time. The cab driver who takes the long route from the airport, the overpriced meals at "fine restaurants," beautiful girls who are hustlers working for hustlers, no coffee machines in your room, posh hotels with add-on charges - these are just a few ways that the odds always favor the house.

Experienced journalists know all about the shakedown. Vegas says we're cheap. We're not really welcome here. We attend events with free food, drink at happy hour, stay at modest hotels and hang out in expensive ones, stride past slot machines, and avoid black jack tables, famous chefs, pretty girls, and cabs whenever possible.

If you're smart, you can leave this town with money. That is, unless something goes wrong. Then even  reporters go home broke.