I NEVER thought I’d be happy to lose 50 dollars in the space of just a few minutes.
But that’s Las Vegas — even if you’re losing, you feel like you’re winning.
And if you thought the city couldn’t get any bigger or better, it plays host to Formula 1 Grand Prix action next weekend.
Nearly four miles of Sin City’s roads will be transformed into the track, with drivers whizzing round at 210mph.
But if you haven’t landed a (very hard to get) ticket, there is plenty else to do in Vegas.
Which is how I found myself in my hotel’s casino, reeled in by the slot machines, before they drained my money.
Thankfully it was hard to feel down when surrounded by cheering people aware it was your first time.
And if gambling isn’t your thing, there are many other ways to get your thrills in Vegas.
My favourite place to go was Superfrico, a “psychedelic Italian” restaurant in The Cosmopolitan hotel, with moody neon lighting and weird cyberpunk artwork.
While the menu was a simple affair — think one kind of pizza and pasta — performances were happening constantly, with jugglers, card tricks and gymnastics keeping the crowd entertained.
One man on rollerskates was having a lot of fun making people jump, by pretending to trip and nearly crash into their drinks.
This included myself — although thankfully between food bites to avoid choking.
For something classier, there is the popular Mayfair restaurant in the Bellagio, near the replica Eiffel Tower.
The venue has a cosy stage in the middle, with live music and performers swinging from the ceiling while you enjoy a menu including tuna tartare and chocolate “cigars”.
Once again, I somehow found myself reluctantly on the receiving end of attention.
I was seated right by the stage and one male act decided to sing directly at me, leaving me red-faced and my friends cheering and videoing my embarrassment.
There are live shows aplenty in Vegas, and one of the most popular is Magic Mike Live — which inspired the production in London’s West End.
Narrated by comedian Lyndsay Hailey — who speaks to a “unicorn” to make the dream Magic Mike men — the show puts female empowerment at the front of the stage.
But I wasn’t sure quite how empowered I felt when surrounded by screaming birthday girls as the topless men did rounds of the seats for “personal” performances.
Hardly a prude myself, even I found my jaw dropping at some of the raunchier acts on stage.
This is certainly the real deal — not only did Channing Tatum direct the choreography, some of the dancers even appeared in the much-loved movie.
I, however, needed to cool down afterwards — both from the 38C heat and sexy men — and thankfully the city isn’t short of beach clubs and pools where you can do just that.
One of the most popular is Tao Beach Club, inside The Venetian resort.
It officially opened last year, joined by Kendall Jenner and her tequila brand 818.
The club is a symphony of DJ tunes, pool- dancing and pitchers of sweet cocktails almost on tap.
Splashing out on a cabana is a must, as it comes with personal service and a private spa pool for added luxury.
And staff are all too happy to indulge in the constant requests for photo-taking, while surrounded by huge skyscrapers, before you take a dip in the water.
But for a real high, literally, the Maverick helicopter tour is not to be missed.
For all the glitz and glamour of Vegas, nothing quite beats whizzing over the Grand Canyon to grasp the scale of this wonder of the world just miles from the bright city.
Champers in hand
We soared through the sky at 140mph to the Mission: Impossible soundtrack, courtesy of our cheeky pilot Duain — who had me screaming with terror as he performed a series of terrifying drops in altitude.
Thankfully, he later made up for this with an almost perfect landing in the canyon — surrounded by intimidating giant rocks — before putting a glass of champagne in my hand.
And just in time for the Grand Prix showcase, they are even offering special tours overlooking the race track and F1 paddock building, as well as the legendary Vegas Strip.
Once my feet were once again on solid ground, there was nothing for it but a midday nap at The Cosmopolitan, back in the hubbub of it all.
One of the newer hotels, it is one of only two resorts on the strip to have rooms with balconies.
My particular suite had views overlooking the Bellagio fountains, which were just as spectacular in the day as at night. And I eagerly ran out every 15 minutes to watch them.
They certainly make it hard to leave the resort — the hotel has its own casino (naturally) and three-storey retail centre, as well as a beach club, two pools and a spa.
Don’t worry about going hungry either, with restaurants galore all around.
I spent many evenings at food court Block 16, slurping spicy noodles one day and devouring juicy tacos another.
With rooms just a shortish lift away, where better to spend the late nights than at the hotel bars?
The Chandelier Bar may look the most impressive, but the most fun is found at the speakeasy-style Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails, with live bands all evening.
If there is one thing you won’t be judged for, it’s stumbling back to your room with your heels in your hands when the sun is already coming up.
But what happened in Vegas definitely isn’t staying in Vegas — if my three-day hangover is anything to go by.
GO: Las Vegas
STAYING THERE: Nobu Hotel Las Vegas rooms from £93 per night, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas start from £123 per night.
OUT & ABOUT: Gondola ride at The Venetian Canals is from £26pp – venetianlasvegas.com.
Magic Mike Live in SAHARA is from £42pp – magicmikelivelasvegas.com.
Tao Beach Dayclub in The Venetian is from £15 – events.taogroup.com.
Winder Dancer Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour with Maverick Helicopters is from £472pp – maverickhelicopters.com.