Las Vegas is so close that it's almost pointless to gamble in the Valley, but, hey, sometimes you get an itch that you just have to scratch. Normally, we don't love nearby casinos, where the smoky haze is so thick you could cut it with a knife and we always feel as though we're getting taken by the dealers, but at least on the Talking Stick casino floor, things feel bright and new. You're less likely to get creepy looks from the strange, companion-less dudes in the crowd, and the dealers will usually crack a joke, or at least a smile, while they take your money. The slot machines are updated and though you won't find many low-limit machines, we've won enough times that we're usually willing to risk a small chunk of change. The 15-story, 497-room hotel also has a pretty good selection of restaurants and several comfortable bars to hide out in once your cash is all gone.