Vegas picI once got into a tussle with a pit boss at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas strip.

Five girlfriends and I were staying at the hotel and wanted to play blackjack at the casino early one Friday night. We found a half-dozen empty tables with $25 betting minimums, and dealers standing behind them. Then there was a single $10 minimum table, that was full and had 20 people hovering around it.

Since our group would fill a whole table, I found the slow-moving, suit-wearing pit boss and politely asked if he could please open another $10 table for the six of us.

N-O.

That’s when I got all heated. We are ASKING to gamble. The hotel is paying dealers to stand and do nothing in front of several blackjack tables. Isn’t it better to have 20 people playing $10 blackjack, than zero people playing $25 blackjack? The pit boss arrogantly told me, “Too bad.”

I didn’t realize it, but as I was making my extremely valid points, I had started shouting. Another man in a suit walked over and tried to quiet me down. My friends disappeared in embarrassment. But the worst moment came while, at the peak of my argument, someone walked up to the empty $25 table I was standing in front of and started playing.

Ouch.

Pissed and humiliated, I found my peeps and we moved on to the next casino. The Venetian. The MGM Grand. All down the strip, the same story: lots of empty $25 and $100 tables, a single $10 table.

My friends and I only had a few hundred dollars to gamble with (which can be gone in minutes at a $25 table), so we hopped in a cab for cheaper pastures. We arrived in downtown Las Vegas, a kitchy area that used to be the strip. There were no dancing water fountain shows, limousines or A-list shows. But we found lots of blackjack and craps games with $5, $2 and even a few $1 minimums. And they served us free drinks while we played, just like at the casinos on the strip.

Hooray!

Just a side note, to preserve my dignity: we’re not penny or nickel slot players.

We ended up playing blackjack and craps at a few different downtown casinos, like The Golden Nugget and the 4 Queens where the betting minimums better matched our spending maximums.

The crowd was more white-haired, fanny-packed and working class; the waitresses weren’t hot, and the gaming areas weren’t gleaming. But we had an absolute blast gambling for HOURS. All five of us sat at the same table together, and as the drinks flowed freely (literally), we cheered loudly and chatted up the dealers.

And whaddaya know? A few of us left with more money than we came with. It’s not about where you are, it’s who you’re with!

Surely there must be a mathematic formula proving it’s more profitable to have one $25 gambler than five $5 gamblers. But for my money, I’m heading downtown.

This is a TravelingMom dedicated post.