Vegas Seven

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    Best Football Contest

    You can pay $25 to enter one of the dozens of football contests around town (where your chances of winning are equal to getting struck by lightning while winning the lottery). Or you can take the skirt off, strap on a helmet and go for the big bucks by entering the legendary Las Vegas Hilton Supercontest. For the last two decades, 350 to 400 serious NFL handicappers have anted up $1,500 for the season-long contest (the gist of the contest: Pick any five NFL games against the spread each week).

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    Best Place for Bar-Top Video Poker

    Let’s be honest: There’s a reason you can’t travel more than two blocks in this town without running into a video poker bar (hint: It doesn’t take long for those “free” drinks to end up costing you triple figures!). That said, if you think tonight’s the night you’re going to finally turn a couple of Andrew Jacksons into a handful of Ben Franklins, you at least should give yourself a fighting chance. So bypass the neighborhood tavern and belly up to a bar at Red Rock Resort.

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    Best-Kept Parking Secret

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    Best Place to Buy a Condo

    When the District at Green Valley Ranch opened in 2004, it offered the promise of living in the only true mixed-used development in the Valley, with 88 condos above retail, dining and office space. But at $500 per square foot, they weren’t for everybody. Now condos are available for nearly one-fifth that price, with amenities such as marble floors, granite countertops and maple cabinetry, plus access to a full gym and to the nearby Green Valley Ranch Resort swimming pool.

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    Best Going-for-Broke Attitude

    It’s not every casino that throws mustache parties, lets kiddies give their Christmas wish lists to an underwater Santa and has Stupid Cupid speed-dating mixers on Valentine’s Day. But not every casino is stuck in the not-quite-neighborhood/not-on-the-Strip no man’s land like the Silverton. The resort’s staff has been putting together odd, funky special events that you won’t see anywhere else in town.

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    Best Historical Photo You’ve Never Seen

    If you’ve lived here for more than 45 minutes, odds are you’ve seen one of the most iconic images ever captured in this dusty desert outpost: that of Lee A. Merlin, then a showgirl at the Sands’ Copa Room, posing for the camera, her left leg slightly bent in front of the right, arms raised to the sky, a mushroom cloud of cotton covering her bikini. She was the last—and clearly the most famous—Miss Atomic Bomb. But here’s what you haven’t seen: Mr. Atomic Bomb.

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    Best Casino Refresh

    Most casino remodels mean new bedding in the rooms, new paint on the walls and maybe replacing brass lighting fixtures with brushed chrome. The Tropicana has gone way beyond that, completely redoing its shabby (un)chic public areas in a whiter than white scheme that would make South Beach envious. Even the gold crown that made the towers look dated back in 1985 has been replaced by brilliant white. Trust us: It looks much, much better than it sounds.

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    Best Advertisement

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    Best Poker Room

    “The Aria has the hottest poker room on the Strip—it’s where all the big games are happening.” So says no less an authority than professional poker player Annie Duke. We couldn’t agree more. On a recent midweek visit, the Aria’s elegantly appointed 24-table poker room was packed to capacity by 8:30 p.m., including the single-table, high-limit Ivey Room (named in honor of eight-time World Series of Poker champ Phil Ivey).

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    Best Hot Property

    In another life (just a few years ago), it was the Streamline, a clunky pink condominium tower built when the boom felt like it would last forever and the city was permitting one mediocre high-rise after another. Thankfully, the Streamline quickly mastered the Las Vegas art of reinvention. A lot of white paint has helped transform it into the Ogden, a far more sober apartment tower that now capably holds down the northern end of downtown and hovers above East Fremont.

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    Expert Opinion: Blasts from the Past

    The native, writer and connoisseur of Old Vegas offers his seven favorite blast-from-the-past businesses that are older than he is: 1. Las Vegas Drive-In (1966). A drive-in is more than just nostalgia; it is a good-humored, approachable place that is cheap and has easy access. In the mood for uncritical fare? Sneak in snacks and bottles of brews, head down there and see how accommodating they are. 4150 W. Carey Ave., 646-3565.

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    Best Place to Get Your First Hole-in-One

    Sure, the numbers suggest that you’ve got a better chance of being hired as Tiger Woods’ swing coach and date planner than you do of hitting a hole-in-one (the research we dug up puts the odds at 13,000 to 1 for an amateur). Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, right? Heck, a woman in Billings, Mont., earlier this month had two aces in the same round (that’s a 67 million-to-1 long shot!). Your best bet for finding golf nirvana in this town: Desert Willow Golf Course, and in particular, hole No. 4.

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    Best New Game in Town

    Aside from perhaps baccarat, is there a more difficult casino game for newbies to try and master than craps? Pass/Don’t Pass, Come/Don’t Come—what exactly are we wagering on here? And with the dealers doling out and raking in chips at breakneck speed, the game can be quite intimidating.

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    Best Dumpster Dive

    Earlier this year, downtown’s beat-up Plaza scored elegant room furnishings and décor that were originally bought and delivered for the Strip’s never-finished dream resort, Fontainebleau. The Plaza has used its marble-and-mattresses windfall to key a down-to-the-studs-and-back-up-again remake of a property that, when it reopens in September, has the potential to anchor a revitalized Fremont Street.

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    Best-Looking Parking Garage

    Some of the most creative and accessible art in Las Vegas can be found underground as part of the Cosmopolitan’s Wallworks display. Contemporary street artists Shinique Smith, RETNA (pictured), Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf have made Levels 2-5 of the garage an attraction in itself, with each artist bringing his own distinctive style to the structure. If ever there’s a parking garage in which you won’t mind searching for your car, this is it.

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