The guy's guide to Las Vegas bachelor parties

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Fifty years ago, with equal parts charisma and martinis, Frank Sinatra made Las Vegas. In 1996, Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau introduced that Vegas cool to a new generation with their movie "Swingers."

Now, it's a losing bet to see a group of friends living it up in Vegas and not saying "Vegas, baby, Vegas!" at least three times an hour.

And remember, what happens in Vegas ... gets written about here in the guys' guide to a Las Vegas bachelor party.

Some basic principles apply. Operate as if anything you want to do is one hand of cards away from happening, because it is. Want to order two bottles of Grey Goose at the club? Then bluff some tourist off his kings with your busted straight. Prefer to step up to a custom car rental instead of that ├╝berchick magnet Chevy Lumina? Then man up, split your 7s and doubledown on your 10 against the blackjack dealer's queen.

Gutsy moves, no doubt, but this is Las Vegas, and if you don't have a good story to regret when you finally (hopefully?) make it back to the office on Monday, then you did it all wrong.

But well before you embrace the lack of open container laws, you're going to need to know where to stay, where to party, where to eat and what fun stuff to do. Here goes:

HOTELS

So much goes into the proper selection of a hotel for a successful bachelor party: the pool, the scene, the rooms, the restaurants, the clubs. Weigh the pros and cons of each place before giving out the credit-card number. Your buddy made the biggest decision of his life to precipitate this bachelor party, so return the favor with smart hotel planning.

Rent suites instead of rooms. You get more space to sprawl out and the mini living room adds an unquantifiable dimension for the groom who wants to cherish hanging with his boys for "the last time." And when you all sit around to enjoy a predinner drink (Lee's Discount Liquors will deliver right to your hotel; (702-451- 0100), you'll appreciate the setup. Plus, it's more comfortable for three or four people to sleep in one suite than in one room.

Focus on the pool. A bad pool makes for a bad pool experience which makes for a bad bachelor party. You may not know it now, but once you crawl out of bed or off the floor in the morning, you're going to want action at the pool. You will all want a lounge chair, multiple bars, multiple poolside venues and optimal eye candy. Access to the water is secondary during a bachelor party. Swim-up blackjack, well, life occasionally deals us all a little perk. Be a man and splurge for the cabana. When you watch dozens of dudes do laps around the pool looking for an open lounge chair, you can laugh, drink and wave the checkered flag.

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You need a good club in the hotel, as well. Not necessarily so you can go to it, but rather so when the night gets late, there's a nice spillover effect into the casino. You'd be surprised how fast a slow night can get at the hotel bar in the wee hours.

This decision should have nothing to do with price. All the hotels worth staying at charge relatively similar rates, so small differences get even smaller when split among a bunch of guys. Remember, that can be made up with one horn bet at the craps table.

The picks

Mandalay Bay (877-632-7800, mandalaybay.com ) Palms (866-942-7777, palms.com ) Wynn Las Vegas (877-321- 9966, wynnlasvegas.com ) Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (800-473-7625, hardrockhotel.com ) MGM Grand (877-880- 0880, mgmgrand.com ) Caesar's Palace (866-227-5938, harrahs.com ).

Guy's guide tip

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Always ask for a casino host when making reservations. Whether you roll high or low, it's good to be on a first-name basis with casino service personnel. You never know when it will come in handy.

WE BE CLUBBIN'

No matter how vintage your jeans look, how cool your button-down shirt is or how much gel is in your hair, you're not getting into the club easily. Face it, you're 10 dudes, and going up against a bouncer at a hot Vegas club like that is like facing a firing squad alone.

So let a nightlife entertainment company plan it all for you. Such companies can get you in the door without waiting in line or paying a cover charge, a private VIP table with hostess service and quite a few bottles of booze of your choosing.

Do not underestimate the value of having a home base at these big Vegas nightclubs. As the night goes on and you start to hit on girls, inviting them to your table scores major points. Plus, when was the last time a dozen of your boys made it into a club at the same time and had one common meeting place inside? Exactly.

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The prepaid pricing varies, but the convenience makes it worth the money. So embrace your inner Vincent Chase and live the "Entourage" lifestyle for the night.

Start with vegashotspots.com (866-925-2091, ask for Shane, he's the man), vipnite.com (888-847-6483) or bachelorvegas.com (800-834-2784).

The picks

Tryst at the Wynn (702-770-3375, wynnlasvegas.com ) Pure at Caesars Palace (702-731-7873, purethenightclub.com ) Tao at the Venetian (702-388-8588, taolasvegas.com ) LAX at Luxor (702-262-4529, laxthenightclub.com ) Rain at Palms (702-942-6832, palms.com ) Body English at Hard Rock (702-693-5564, bodyenglish.com ) Jet at Mirage (702-693-8300, mirage.com ) Studio 54 at MGM Grand (702-891-7279, mgmgrand.com ).

Guy's guide tip

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Get bottles of vodka, so when you finish them, you can fill them up with water and pass it off as vodka to unsuspecting people trying to muscle in on your booze for free. Mix it with some cranberry juice, and they won't know the difference. Trust us on this one.

THE STEAK DINNER

Among the many rites of passage in a man's life, the bachelor party steak dinner ranks near the top. It is not something to be taken lightly. The best man can misplace the wedding ring, but screwing up the steak dinner is legitimate cause for dismissal.

Vegas puts plenty of its dollars - OK, your dollars - into amazing restaurants. Reading the menu at Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian (702-414-3737, venetian.com ) will bring a bachelor party to a carnivorous rage. When the waiters line up at the table and serve the entire group in one smooth move, you'll stand up and hug them.

Feel more highbrow than you really are as you sit in a huge red velvet chair at Michael's at the South Point Casino (702-796-7111, southpointcasino.com ). Formerly in the Barbary Coast, this first-rate steakhouse moved three miles south of the Strip last year, but the level of food and service never wavered. Many steakhouses have a jacket policy. Not Michael's. They have a no shorts policy and have a closetful of embroidered house pants they will make you wear. If you play your cards right, you just ate a great piece of beef and walked out with a free pair of pants. Possibly the best deal in town.

More picks

You won't have to worry about losing the best-man title if you score reservations at Prime at Bellagio (702-693-7223, bellagio.com ), Craftsteak at MGM Grand (702-891-7318, mgmgrand.com ), or Del Frisco's at 3925 Paradise Blvd. (702-796-0063, delfriscos.com ).

Guy's guide tip

Perhaps the most underrated beef experiences on the Strip is The Range at Harrah's (800-392-9002, harrahs.com ). The food is outstanding - try the sauteed mushrooms - and there's no need to go all in at the poker table beforehand to pay for this meal. Oh, yeah, when you call to make reservations, ask for a table that looks directly out at the Strip. It's the best view in town.

SHOWTIME

Sinatra and the Rat Pack made going to a show in Vegas a pop-culture phenomenon. So much so that now "Did you see any shows?" is the third question people ask when friends return from the trip. (The first two are "Where'd you stay?" and "Did you win anything?")

Most shows may indeed be top-notch, but when was the last time you saw a bunch of brohams pile into Cirque du Soleil or Danny Gans? Exactly. Save the shows for after the wedding.

However, concerts and sporting events are a big part of the Vegas experience. Between the beach stage, the 12,000-seat arena and the House of Blues (702-474-4000), Mandalay Bay is the first place to look for top touring musical acts. And it's never a bad idea to rock out with whatever band is playing at The Joint at the Hard Rock (702-474-4000). Even if you've never heard of the artist, the Hard Rock has its name for a reason.

Guy's guide tip

If you can't score tickets to a big boxing or Ultimate Fighting event, go to the weigh-in on Friday. It's free and quick, and you'll still feel like you were part of the fight.

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