A Las Vegas rookie chronicles his first time in Sin City


Welcome to what is definitely a self-indulgent but also hopefully entertaining live blog, where I'll be writing about my first trip to Las Vegas. Follow along as I explore all that this sleepy, quiet town has to offer on Friday and Saturday ahead of the Washington Football Team's battle with the Raiders on Sunday. The most recent posts will be at the top of the story. — Pete Hailey 

Saturday, Dec. 4 — Stadium Swim at Circa Resort/Casino  — 4:49 p.m. PST Vegas

This is going to be my final update, because A) I don't want to spend Saturday night in Vegas blogging and B) because I think the weekend peaked at Stadium Swim, which is an oasis of a place at Circa.

Seriously, if you haven't been, go (look at me already demanding people what to do when they're here when I've been in town for like a shade more than 36 hours. What a jerk I am).

I'll let my colleague JP provide photographic proof of my new favorite place in the universe:

I don't know how to build statues, but if I could build statues, I'd build one of whoever thought of Stadium Swim. It's a sportsbook mixed with pools mixed with a casino. I actually played Blackjack with no shoes or shirt on. It was fantastic!

In all, this has been a dream of a trip here. I'd sincerely like to thank the folks at NBC who gave me the green light to come to Vegas, as well as the many WFT fans we've met in various places who've come up and said kind words about the work we do. And tomorrow, that work starts up again.


Goodnight all, and I appreciate you checking this thing out. May all of your Roulette spins end up lucky.

Saturday, Dec. 4 — The Welcome to Las Vegas sign — 1:16 p.m. PST Vegas

I don't want to be a curmudgeon, but wow, this sign is a bust. Like, it's the taking-Josh-Doctson-19th-overall of signs. Very small, strangely low to the ground and not at all what I was envisioning. 

And that is all I have for this entry.

Saturday, Dec. 4 — The Arctic Tundra because I'm stone cold at the tables — 11:28 a.m. PST Vegas

Reality is starting to set in for your friendly live blogger over here, as the hot streak Mitch and I had at the Bellagio yesterday feels like it happened in 1982. It might be time to reload at an ATM soon.

Elsewhere, JP, Mitch and I are going to bounce over to Circa, where we'll tune into the SEC Championship game and perhaps jump into a pool. 

Lastly, we're about 24 hours out from kickoff of Washington's game at Allegiant Stadium. The place looks gorgeous (and also like Darth Vader's vacation home) and it's going to be a treat to see what it's all about inside. 

Saturday, Dec. 4 — The Mandalay Bay — 7:34 a.m. PST Vegas

I survived my first night in Las Vegas.

Here I am, sitting in front of my laptop, in one piece... barely. There's a half-chomped Snickers bar on the table to my right — perhaps that'll be breakfast? — and a very serious headache lodged right between my ears. But I survived.

I'd like to thank EVERYONE who came out to the Pod Party on Friday. It was a legitimate blast. Aside from recording what might be the most chaotic and ridiculous episode in Washington Football Talk history, I felt like the entire evening was a major success. It turns out people really enjoy JP, Mitch and I's show for some odd reason.

Now, though, I'm onto today. Friday was a success, but Saturday is here and that's the newest obstacle. It sounds like a bunch of us D.C. media folk are going to hang out during the day and watch copious amounts of college football, among other activities.

If you see us on the Strip, yes, you can ask for my autograph. Pictures are doable as well — but I may ask for a chip or two in return.

Friday, Dec. 3 — The Mandalay Bay — 5:20 p.m. PST Vegas

For those of you who were concerned, don't be; JP Finlay has arrived on the scene and is ready to roll. I'll keep an eye on him tonight.

Meanwhile, I'm taking a brief break in my  room on the 56th floor of our hotel. Essentially, I'm treating it like Ron Rivera deals with halftime — by addressing what's going well and what needs to be fixed.

Soon, JP, Mitch and I are going to grab dinner and then head over to Eye Candy for our Pod Party. It'll likely be a debacle, but a fun debacle nonetheless.

By the way, I just booked my first in-person sports wager in Vegas, which is an enormous moment for me. All I'll say is this: I hope the Warriors take care of business in the first quarter against the Suns.


Friday Dec. 3 — The Excalibur — 4:01 p.m. PST Vegas

I’d like to thank my bosses for sending me here. Sincerely.

That’s it. That’s the update.

Friday Dec. 3 — The Bellagio — 2:54 p.m. PST Vegas

My official Vegas Sherpa (that’s a legitimate title) Mitch Tischler and I have gotten our feet plenty wet thus far. We’ve bounced around Caesar’s Palace, Aria and The Bellagio (the fountains, like Landon Collins this weekend, were sadly inactive) as Mitch has done a splendid job of showing me some staples of the strip.

While at The Bellagio’s casino, we cherished a nice heater at the Blackjack table before handing some back at Roulette. We kept placing chips on 4 and yelling “HeinickEE” yet the gambling Gods ignored our cries.

That’s fine. There’s plenty more night left

Friday, Dec. 3 — Mandalay Bay Hotel — 11:55 a.m. PST Vegas 

I knew this was the place for me when I saw that there were slot machines sprinkled throughout baggage claim. 

I repeat: There are slot machines sprinkled throughout BAGGAGE CLAIM.

After hustling out of McCarran International Airport, I grabbed an Uber to our hotel, Mandalay Bay. The driver, who was very kind, was spewing all sorts of tips and facts about Vegas to me, but I didn't listen to a single one. Instead, I was just staring at the massive buildings and enormous signs, all apparently in a competition with one another to be bigger than the rest.

After filming a quick preview video along with Mitch Tischler for the Washington-Raiders tilt — keep an eye on our Twitters and this here website for the final product once it's published — it's now time to go out and explore. For the next handful of hours, I'll be filing updates remotely. 

Sorry to whoever has to edit what's to come :).

Also, if you're reading this and are in town, come to Eye Candy at Mandalay Bay tonight at 7:30. The Washington Football Talk podcast is hosting a Pod Party and JP Finlay is buying beers. If you ask politely, he may even give you two.

Friday, Dec. 3 — On the runway of the Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport — 9:16 a.m. EST

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

That's a classic quote, and one I'm taking to heart as my connecting flight in Detroit is about to take off and head for the Entertainment Capital of the World (apparently that's a nickname for Las Vegas, based on a Google search I did about 12 seconds ago):

I played four hands of Blackjack and won three of them, so I'm already up 30 imaginary chips. This bodes SO well for what's to come when I land.

Friday, Dec. 3 — Somewhere over the state of Michigan — 7:12 a.m. eastern

I just accidentally pushed the flight attendant button instead of the switch for the overhead light in the middle of a supremely dark and quiet flight. It caused a bit of a scene. This must be what it feels like to false start on an important third-and-4. I’m mortified.

Thursday, Dec. 2 — Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. — 9:01 p.m. EST

When leaving the Washington Football Team's facility after Thursday's practice, I had the following exchange with Ben Standig, a reporter who also covers the Burgundy and Gold for The Athletic ...


Ben: "Hey Pete, what time do you leave for Vegas?"

Me: "I've got a flight at 6 A.M. out of BWI tomorrow."

Ben: "Damn, you couldn't find anything earlier?"

It was a great line from Ben — and sadly, the answer to his zinger was no, I could not. Clearly he was being sarcastic, but if there was an earlier option out of one of the DMV's airports, I would've taken it.

After all, this is my first time going to Las Vegas, and I want to soak it all up.

I'm all done packing — included in my suitcase: extra Advil, an unspecified amount of cash that I put in a rubber band just to feel like a baller and sandals (it's going to be 70 degrees! I hope I don't get sunburnt!!) — and am about to try and sleep.

I doubt I'll be able to do much of that, however, seeing as I feel like I used to on Christmas Eve — except this time, my gifts will be lots of face cards at the Blackjack table and, hopefully, Washington's fourth-straight victory.

The alarm is set for just before 4, which in any other circumstance would be downright devilish. For this excursion, however, I'm completely OK with it. Talk to you all when I land, and if you happen to see my mom around over the next couple of days (her name is Debby and she's very sweet), tell her I'll be all right.