I like The Venetian a lot, but they’re a little over-zealous in promoting one of their in-house shows, “Phantom Of The Opera.” They play its signature song, “Music Of The Night,” over the PA about ten times a day. It’s in the hallways, elevators, bathrooms, food court, and the casino. I have no interest in these sappy kinds of musicals in the first place (give me Rodgers and Hammerstein any day), but repeated exposure to that song makes me want to kill Andrew Lloyd Webber.

I’m spending the majority of my time on this trip in the poker room, where things get wilder as the hour gets later. I’ve seen one well-known poker pro so drunk that he was face down in his chips as the game continued. Another one came to my $5-10 pot-limit-Omaha table last night, also under the influence of alcohol. He raised every pot, ran over the game for a half-hour to amass a big stack of chips — none of mine, though — and then insisted that they open up a higher-limit game that he could play. Within minutes, they opened up a $25-50 PLO game for him, and several other players swooped in to take advantage of his condition, knowing they could exploit his wild drunken style. Less than an hour later, he was walking out unsteadily without a single chip left. I’d guess those 90 minutes cost him $15,000.

Here’s another story from the tables. Monday night at about 4am, a young guy had just come back from a strip club and was sharing his exploits. He talked in great detail about the lap dances he enjoyed, and said he asked one stripper for her phone number so he could get together with her outside the club for, well, you know.

He said she was going to give him her number, but there was nothing to write it down with because — get this — strippers and other club employees are not allowed to have pens or pencils. It has to do with stopping exactly what this guy was attempting to arrange, particularly if money was going to change hands. Because in Sin City, a completely naked woman can charge a completely dressed guy hundreds of dollars to rub herself all over every part of his body inside the club, but if the physical/financial transaction moves to his room, that’s over the line. And it’s all because of a ballpoint pen.

The poker player laughed as he said, “So I just put her number right into my iPhone!” System defeated. Unfortunately, he complained, she gave him a bogus phone number.

I’m sure there are plenty of strippers who easily cross that thin moral line, but apparently she’s not one of them, and in an effort to get guys to stop asking, she gives them a phony number and is done with them. Or it could have been worse. Perhaps she does do that kind of business outside the club, but didn’t want to do it with this guy, for whatever reason.

As he continued telling the tale — and there was no way to stop him — he said that since she wouldn’t fulfill his needs, he called one of those girls-to-your-room hotlines that are advertised throughout Vegas (including on cards handed to you on the sidewalk and on flat-panel trucks that roam the strip day and night, part of the town’s commitment to a family-friendly atmosphere). In about 30 minutes, a woman showed up at his hotel room and greeted him by getting right down to business. He says she told him, “It’s $300 for me to step into your room, and then everything is negotiable.” She repeated the word “everything.”

He told her he wanted to know the full package price right away, not after she got inside. She refused. I’m guessing it’s like the meter on a taxi, where the profit comes from the initial flag drop, not the length of the ride, and she wouldn’t move until the flag was dropped. She probably also wanted to make sure up front that the guy had a bunch of money, since her job really consists less of pleasing him than it does draining him of every possible dollar. In the end, he said, he sent her away, disillusioned by his first trip to Las Vegas because the city hadn’t lived up to his image of it, sexually.

When he finished the story, I chimed in: “You should have asked her how much it would cost if she didn’t enter the room but you got into it right there in the hallway.” Although hearing that “Phantom” song on the PA would probably ruin the mood.