Navigating Vegas for Citrix Synergy 2016 - Inside Tips from a Former Professional Poker Player

Posted by Brandon Lee on May 6, 2016 2:02:37 PM

What happens in Vegas? Quite a lot actually, and even more so if you're willing to do a little exploration on your down time. On this journey, I'm going to take you on an inside view of the typical Vegas hot topics of food, gambling, drinks and entertainment. So let us begin by getting away from the Ventian and Palazzo, the site for Citrix Synergy 2016, and branch out into other domains.

Las Vegas is known for it's extraordinary culinary selection, which you can find at most hotels on the Strip, including The Venetian/Palazzo. While the dining is excellent, expect it to be jam packed with Reservations being an absolute must, but not a guarantee (this is a popular time for visiting Vegas). I'm taking you off Strip for this Insider List...

due in part to some other conventions taking place, such as Recon 2016 (36k attendees), which can often make dining a bit hectic. So let's begin our tour of some of my personal recommendations that won't have you venturing too far from the Strip.


As you leave the Venetian/Palazzo, jump on Spring Mountain Rd headed West, as depicted by this MAP. The map covers 6 distinct routes that lead to some of my favorite nearby destinations that are worthy of this escapade through Chinatown, or are delivery friendly.

  • Krung Siam is the first stop, located at 3755 Spring Mountain Rd. Krung Siam offers a solid selection of Thai Food and is open until 6am where you can often times find some live Karaoke at all hours! (Inside Tip: Go later than usual if you plan on checking it out)
  • As a first timer, walking into Lee's Sandwiches may be a bit of a shock to your senses with the brightness (depending on what time you go), but they're open 24/7 with good, fast, and inexpensive prices on some great food! (Inside Tip: Breakfast sandwiches are amazing but if you're feeling frisky try the #1 or #11 Asian Sandwiches...they taste so much better than they might smell)
  • Hot N' Juicy is an absolute must for any sort of Cajun Seafood Lover! Hot N' Juicy has been featured on numerous food networks and has an amazing array of succulent and flavorful sauce blends that can even have the "hottest" of eaters, sweating. (Inside Tip: Dress down and use the gloves, especially when eating extra spicy!)
  • For Vietnamese food, Pho So 1, which just so happens to be right across the street from Hot N' Juicy is your best bet. If Pho isn't your thing, don't worry because they offer a great table side grilling experience slightly similar to that of Korean BBQ. Speaking of Korean BBQ there is a place right beside Lee's that isn't too bad. 
  • Thai Pepper you may wonder why I'm offering up all these thai places, but that's because this one is very high in quality, and now they're open 24/7, PLUS THEY DELIVER!
  • KungFu Thai and Chinese has a huge selection and takes online delivery orders as well. But if you're looking for a bit more Authentic Style Chinese Cuisine or Dim Sum...just ask @fslogix on twitter #what2eat. 



When Gambling in Vegas you have a seemingly unlimited variety of options: Roulette, Craps, Blackjack, Baccarat, Keno, Slots, Video Poker, Pai Gow, etc. Most Casino Games are the same at every casino with some minor variations in the rules.

Inside Tip: Don't gamble, but if you are, get a players card and reap the benefits! 

Inside Tip: Visit the Wizard of Odds to learn about the house edge/advantage in each game, along with the optimal strategy for minimizing the house edge.

  • Craps will have virtually the same odds across the strip, with what are known as 3x-4x-5x odds. If you really love to shoot craps but would rather give the house a slightly lower advantage, go off Strip to a Station Casino or a "locals" Casino. 
  • For Blackjack, rules are fairly standardized across the strip with many Casinos such as The Venetian and Palazzo, only paying 6 to 5 on Blackjack at most tables, as opposed to 3 to 2 . 
    • Inside Tip: Use a BJ House Edge Calculator and you'll see that if BJ pays 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2, you're trippling or sometimes quadrupling the house edge. Little known fact: Card Counters can't beat Blackjack tables that only pay 6 to 5 on BJ.
    • Inside Tip: If you want to get paid 3 to 2 on Blackjack, you'll need to venture to somewhere like Downtown Vegas, aka Fremont Street, or to an off strip casino with better rules, such as "Surrender" and "Resplit Aces." 
    • Inside Tip: High Limit Areas will often offer much better rules than the main play area but most will require a minimum bet of $50 if not $100 or more. At the Venetian/Palazzo you can find tables where you can bet $50 a hand and get OK rules. 
    • Inside Tip: Get a Basic Strategy card for a few bucks at the gift shop, or better yet, use this Blackjack Basic Strategy Calculator and print out the proper strategy for free.
    • Inside Tip: When you're not sure, just ask. The pit bosses, dealers, and other players are almost always open to helping you. However, you can't always trust what they say, so it's still best to learn it or have your strategy card ready by your side! 
    • Inside Tip: Top 10 Most Common Blackjack Mistakes Did you know hitting 2/2 vs a dealer 7 is almost a 10% mistake? Well it is! By splitting 2/2 vs a dealer 7, on a $25 bet, you will have saved yourself the cost of that Basic Strategy Card alone! If you add up the theoretical loss for each mistakes made throughout the course of a session, you can see why most people walk away loser from the BJ table. 
  • Poker, to some degree, almost deserves it's own category, but perhaps that's just personal bias. Synergy will be taking place exactly one week prior to the World Series of Poker getting underway at the Rio. If you're looking to play a little 1/2 NLH, you can pretty much play anywhere. But if you're looking for a little more variety such as pot-limit-omaha, I suggest Aria or the Venetian Poker Room. In my opinion, the Venetian Poker Room is the nicest poker room in Vegas. It's spacious with a huge number of tables, excellent service, and great food/drink options while at the table. (Inside Tip: Download the Bravo Poker Live App to see what games are being played all around town, and even the country!)


Drinks's everywhere and in many places it's free, or at least that's how it seems. For example, while you're gambling, all your drinks will be free with an option to tip the waitress. Please exercise this option to tip your dealers, waitresses, and bartenders unless of course there are justifiable causes to do otherwise. If you step up to a bar though, expect to pay your usual top dollar.

  • Inside Tip 1: Stick a hundred into the poker machine at the bar, while you're ordering from the bartender. That will let him know you're going to play which will allow him to "comp" your drink. Then all you can bet like $0.25 or $1 or even nothing if he walks away, then cashout, but make sure to tip your bartender and head off to enjoy your drink. This little trick won't work if it's your turn to order a round of drinks.
  • Inside Tip 2: Look for a waitress with empty bottles and glasses on her tray (signal that she's bussing and taking new orders) in the slots section and see if you can get really close to signal her while sitting at a gaming machine. Some casinos like the Venetian/Palazzo have a button on the machine that will allow you to request drink service. 
  • Inside Tip 3: Don't be afraid to ask what will they be willing to give you while you play, sometimes it may be just as simple as asking the pit boss very politely. I once was given shots of Johnny Walker Blue for free while betting $50 a hand at Blackjack at Treasure Island. Retail wise that's approximately $13 a shot and assuming the house has an edge of 0.5% it would take me 24-26 hands of black jack to pay for that shot. Assuming you're sharing a 6 deck shoe game with 2 individuals and each of you are playing 1 hand each with the dealer, you should expect to get about 23-24 hands per shoe. Keep in mind, if they have your players card, you'll also be earning rewards credits as well!


Other Entertainment

Las Vegas is blessed with an assortment of entertainment options. 

  • Pole Position Raceway is a top-notch, Indoor Go-Cart Race Track which could make for a great Team Building Event!
  • Bowling can be found at number of casinos, but most reliably at The Orleans with their enormous 70 lanes.
  • The Cirque Shows are incredible if you have time to catch one, but don't ever pay full price, you can always find deals and discounts Just Ask!
  • If you want to hit the links but don't have the time during day hours, book a tee time at Angel Park. It's small, and it won't be like teeing off at Cascata, however, you can still get in a decent round starting at 7pm at night! When's the last time you tee'd off at 7pm? 

Stay tuned and look for part 2 of this mini-series as we next look to Navigate Inside the Venetian and Palazzo....

Remember to Tweet @fslogix if you have any questions.

Topics: Citrix, Citrix Synergy

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