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Las Vegas, through the curious lens of Google’s Autocomplete

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Rick Lax played with Google and Bing (and they played back) to find out what burning questions outsiders are asking.
Photo: Ryan Olbrysh

When you start typing a question into Google, it finishes your sentence for you. It’s called “Autocomplete,” and Google explains the technology like this: “As you type, Google’s algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google.” What’s that mean? It means that if you type “Does America ...” Google will fill in “ ... own the moon?” Because that, apparently, is what everybody wants to know.

At Las Vegas Weekly, we wanted to get into the minds of Vegas outsiders. What do they think about our big, strange city? What questions do they have? Google Autocomplete has all the answers …

Does Vegas …

… get cold?

… hit on soft 17?

… control NFL?

The first question is easy: Vegas gets cold. According to the National Weather Service, Vegas’ average January low is just 34 degrees. Brr.

The second question is trickier. It depends on the casino. Some Vegas dealers hit on soft 17 (a 17 that includes an ace acting as 11), which decreases players’ overall odds by 0.2 percent. So search out a table where dealers stand on an ace and a six. Blackjackclassroom.com says, “At the time of this writing, Tropicana’s high limit double deck offers the best blackjack odds in Las Vegas for 2012.”

And does Vegas control the NFL? Far from it. We actually track which NFL games draw the most bets and which referees work those games. If we see a suspicious correlation, we report it to the NFL. We don’t need to control the game outcomes; we control the spreads. That’s enough to take your money.

Where in Vegas …

… is Pawn Stars?

… was Prince Harry?

… was Tupac shot?

Google Maps shows the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop—that’s where Pawn Stars is filmed—on Las Vegas Boulevard, between Gass and Garces. That’s north of the Strip, south of Downtown. Just look for the long line of people waiting to get inside.

Where was Harry? Where wasn’t Harry? The naked pictures were snapped in an MGM Grand suite, but, according to dailymail.co.uk, Harry also stopped by the SW Steakhouse (Steve Wynn’s treat), Surrender and Wet Republic during his Vegas romp this past August.

According to Wikipedia, on September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur attended the Tyson-Seldon matchup at MGM. After a scuffle in the hotel lobby, Tupac drove towards Club 662. At 11:10 p.m. he was spotted at Koval and Flamingo, and at 11:15 p.m. he was shot in the car. He spent his last six days at the Southern Nevada University Medical Center before dying on September 13.

Is Vegas …

… .com legit?

… fun?

… fun during the week?

Yes, vegas.com is legit. It’s our city’s official travel site, and it really will help you find and book hotel reservations and show tickets. It’s not some fly-by-night shell website that steals your credit card, cashes out your life savings and bets everything on black. And no, I’m not just saying that because vegas.com is owned by the same people who own Las Vegas Weekly.

Obviously, Vegas is fun, and I submit that it’s especially fun during the week. If you like waiting for tables and waiting in lines, by all means, visit Vegas on the weekend. But if you actually want to do stuff—as opposed to just standing around while other people do stuff close to you—call in sick and come here on a Monday. Consider the lower-limit table games and the lower room rates a bonus.

Is Bellagio …

… on the Strip?

… kid friendly?

… better than Venetian?

I don’t blame people for asking whether Bellagio is on the Strip. These people probably visited Vegas in the past, booked reservations at Palms or Hard Rock, and found out the hard way they’d be spending a fortune on cabs. But, yes, Bellagio is on the Strip. Right in the middle.

When Bellagio opened, the hotel had a reputation for being anti-kid. The slogan was practically “Come to Bellagio to get away from those annoying children at Circus Circus.” But over the past decade, Bellagio has softened up. The hotel came to appreciate that rich people have kids, too. So now, the hotel’s age policy is the same as that of every other resort. Bellagio.com reads, “Guests must be at least 21 years of age to gamble in the resort.
You must be at least 18 years of age or a registered hotel guest to enter the Bellagio resort.”

Both Venetian and Bellagio scored a 4 on Yelp. Venetian also scored a 4 on TripAdvisor … but Bellagio scored a 4.5. Draw your own conclusions.

Can casinos …

… print money?

… cheat in roulette?

… beat you up?

No, and they wouldn’t want to. Why bother literally printing money—secretservice.gov says that’s punishable by 15 years imprisonment—when you’re doing it figuratively? And why cheat in roulette when the odds are already stacked in your favor? (Wizardofodds.com puts the casino edge at 5 percent on double-zero games.)

Finally, yes, decades ago, casinos beat people up. For cheating, for counting cards, for whatever. But the days of Mob rule are long gone. Now casinos are run by boardrooms and owned by shareholders. And believe me, you could beat Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn in a fight. At the same time.

Pondering life’s great questions with Bing

Do prostitutes …

… enjoy their work?

… fall in love?

… go to hell?

Does Criss Angel ...

… have a Facebook?

… have a twin brother?

… worship the devil?

Do cab drivers …

… carry guns?

… meet lots of women?

… get convicted of rape?

Is Coco Austin …

… pregnant 2012?

… real?

… plastic?

Does Steve Wynn …

… gamble?

… live in Las Vegas?

… shake hands?

Was Liberace ...

… gay?

… a good pianist?

… ever on Star Trek?

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Rick Lax

Rick wrote the books Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas and Lawyer ...

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