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Old 11-12-2013, 12:16 PM   #1
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Default 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

My wife gave me tickets to Big Smoke for my Birthday/Christmas present this year.

I started a thread asking for some feedback and tips from those BOTL that attended before. (LINK)

I received some great tips/feedback both on the thread and via PM.

I wanted to give my own review of Big Smoke 2013 along with some tips for anyone who might attend in the future.





EVENT INFORMATION:
2013 Big Smoke
Sponsored by Cigar Aficionado
Location: Mirage Casino
The event was held in the convention center area. (Mirage Event Center Link)
The location is a decent walk from the casino floor.

Big Smoke Link: http://www.cigaraficionado.com/micro/show/id/15453

Big Smoke is a 2 day event. On Friday and Saturday nights, from 6:30-9:15 is the "Big Smoke Event" event. You have to buy a ticket for each night ($240), and really only need to go on one night (nothing different between the Friday and Saturday evening).

Big Smoke also includes seminars on Saturday. To attend the seminars you have to purchase the "package" for $550. This includes the seminars on Saturday and one of the Big Smoke Evenings (Friday or Saturday). The package was already sold out, so I was not able to attend.

Vendor List for 2013 Big Smoke:
  • Drew Estates- Acid/Undercrown
    Aging Room
    A. J. Fernandez
    Alec Bradley
    Arturo Fuente
    Asylum
    Cain
    CAO
    Casa Fernandez
    Casino Gold
    Diamond Crown
    Dunhill
    Foundry
    H.Upmann Legacy
    Joya de Nicaragua
    Kismet
    La Aroma de Cuba
    La Aurora
    La Flor Dominicana
    La Gloria Cubana Serie R
    La Palina
    Macanudo
    Monte by Montecristo
    My Father Cigars
    Nat Sherman
    Oliva Serie O
    Padilla
    Padrón
    Partagas
    PDR
    Quesada
    Rocky Patel
    Sublimes
    Tatuaje
    Toraño
    Ventura
    Villiger



For the 2013 Las Vegas Big Smoke event there was 36 manufacturers. There was also several liquor companies handing out samples (Guiness beer, Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Zacapa Rum, Crystal Vodka, Zaya Rum, Carpano Antica, Belvedere, Glenfiddich, etc.). There is also a decent selection of food- Mini hamburgers, large desert assortment, pasta selection. All of this was included with your $240 ticket.

TIPS:

Tip #1: Try to obtain a layout.

On Friday night I went over to the Big Smoke area in Mirage at around 9:30 p.m., when everyone was leaving. I was able to take a picture of the layout of the event so I could be prepared for my Saturday evening event. Some of these booths are PACKED with VERY long lines, so it is very beneficial to hit them up right away- the ones to make sure to go to right away are: Alex Bradley Cigars and Rocky Patel. I cannot describe how long the line for Rocky Patel was- it was crazy.



Tip #2: Get there early

The event started at 6:30 p.m. I was at the line at 5:15 p.m. The wait was not too bad since I have some nice guys to talk with. If you show-up late, be prepared to wait in a long, long, long line. This pictures is taken from the front of the line:



Tip #3: Go with Friends

I went to Big Smoke by myself. By going with friends you are able to split-up the tickets and get the cigars easier. Let me explain:
When you check in for Big Smoke, you will receive a "coupon book" The coupon book will includes tickets for each vendor. You will give the ticket to the vendor and they will give you a cigar. If you have to do this for each of the 36 vendors, it will take you a long time. Several vendors have LONG lines that take forever to get through.

If you go with friends you can break the tickets-up. Example: If there are 6 of you, then the first person can do Booths #1-6. He can collect the "Booth #1" tickets from each person, and can present all 6 tickets to the vendor. The vendor will then hand you 6 cigars. If you go this way, you can be done getting all of your cigars very quickly, and you can then sit down at a table and enjoy all the food, drink, and cigars you want.

Tip #4: Bring boxes of swag you want signed.

I did not do this, but realized I should have. If you have ever wanted Pete Johnson to sign that box of Franks, bring it with you! How about Pepin Garcia signing that hat? Bring it! There is a chance that your owner might not be there in person, but it is worth a shot. I really wish I would have brought some items for Pete Johnson, Pepin Garcia, Janny Garcia, Rocky Patel, Jonathan Drew, etc. to sign.

I was able to get Carlito Fuente and some of his family to sign a 2012 charity 2 cigar box (purchased for $50 at the Fuente booth).




Tip #5: Leave and come back

I was in the front of the line. I got in, got some cigars, walked around, and then left. I came back at around 8:30 p.m. and the crowd had died down some. I ended-up staying until they kicked us out. I was able to finally get to the elusive Rocky Patel table at closing time, and had only a very short line and they were handing out excess swag.

I also noticed that when I cam back at 8:30 p.m. I saw several more of the company owners- Carlito Fuente, Pete Johnson, Jonathan Drew, and Pepin Garcia. I did not notice them present when I first came in at 6:30 p.m.

Picture: It gets full in the conference center. This is a blurry picture, but still shows how many people they stuff in the room:



Tip #6: Go to Boveda Booth early on

The Boveda booth was handing out large zip-lock backs with Boveda packets already in them. I was able to put my cigars in the bag during the event. Kept the cigars safe in one place and humidified.

Tip #7: Take time to get cigars out of promotional packaging and place in your Zip Lock Bag.

Many vendors will just hand you the cigars out of a box. Some vendors already have cigars in zip-lock bags with promotional material in them. Other vendors have the cigars in small promotional cardboard boxes. I stopped several times and just took the cigars out and put them in my Boveda provided zip-lock bag. I don't think all of the cigars would have fit in my bag if I left them in the promotional packaging.

Tip #8: Bring Cash
Some vendors sold items at their booth. Fuente was selling the 2-cigar Charity packs for $50, and hats for $20. You could then get them signed by Carlito at the booth.

Recommendation to Cigar Aficionado:

If anyone from the company reads this- please make the seminars a separate ticket. In the future I would love to attend the seminars and skip out on the Big Smoke Evenings.


BIG QUESTION: Was it worth it and/or would I go again?

I would most likely not attend the Big Smoke Evening event by myself again. If I went with a group of friends, then I would be fun to go again. I would definitely want to attend the seminars sometime. As for "value", if you get samples of all of the cigars, and eat the food and drinks, then you can get your money back and then some. I did not drink any during the event, but there was a LOT of alcohol around to enjoy.


This was my collection of cigars. I was able to go to every vendor.

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Old 11-12-2013, 12:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Thanks for the very comprehensive review. There is a lot of great information here
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Old 11-12-2013, 12:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Nice job thanks doubt I'll ever make it out there but Still I love seeing coverage of this and IPCPR
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Old 11-12-2013, 12:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Wow. Great review and advice! I am planning on attending this at some point in my life and I will take all of this advice with me. Thanks!
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Old 11-12-2013, 01:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Thanks for the tips. Looks like you got a pretty sweet haul too. The event looks uncomfortably packed but I think I'd still like to experience it at least once.
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Thank you! I've always wondered how this thing actually goes down.
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Old 11-13-2013, 01:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Nice of you to post this for future use by others. Nice to see some of my tips were helpful and noted in your review!
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Great read, thanks. Please let me know what ya think of the Psyko Seven. I have wanted to pull the trigger but always push it back on the list...
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Old 11-21-2013, 07:31 AM   #9
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Helluva review. I'd love to go one of these years.
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Old 11-21-2013, 08:31 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Thanks for the review and tips
Nice selection of cigars to come home with
I like others on here would love to attend at least once, just for the experience

Don
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:21 AM   #11
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Good job on the review. It looks too crowded for me.
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Old 11-30-2013, 01:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

I went in 2012...it's a people zoo
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Very informative review! I am attending the Saturday night this year. Sadly, also by myself...

In order to get all of the samples, were you basically standing in lines for the entire 3 hours? Or did you have an opportunity to relax and enjoy after you collected all the cigars?

Cheers!
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Old 09-24-2014, 02:57 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

2014 Update:


Updated Site: Big Smoke 2014

Same location as my 2013 preview.

Looks like tickets have gone-up from $240 to $275. This event was already expensive in my opinion, and this really does not help.

Since it is in the same location, I would imagine that the layout/setup would be the same as in my 2013 review.

Feel free to message me if you have any questions concerning Big Smoke and my experience at the event in 2013.
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Old 11-07-2014, 12:02 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Great review of the Big Smoke. I just found cigarasylum by looking for Big Smoke info. This review, info & tips will help me with my first Big Smoke on Sat night, 11/08/14. The Big Smoke app activity feed just shows the excitement of everyone for the Big Smoke.
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Old 11-10-2014, 02:22 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

JARS: Feel free to add information from your Big Smoke Experience from Saturday!
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:11 PM   #17
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dukeuni View Post
JARS: Feel free to add information from your Big Smoke Experience from Saturday!
I attended 2014 Vegas event on Saturday....pretty much exactly as you described it in the previous year...I had a great time except for poor ventilation...there was a group of 7 with me...had a blast
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Old 11-13-2014, 09:06 PM   #18
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

My experience at Big Smoke 2014.

Thanks Dukeuni for all the great 2013 tips, which were very helpful while I attended this past weekend.

I thought I would add my 2014 experience to supplement your review.

This was my first Big Smoke, so I purchased the Friday evening event ticket. The seminars sounded really cool, but I decided this time I would just do an evening event and spend some quality over the weekend time partying with my wife.

I attended the event alone.


2014 Venue: The Mirage

-Same location as 2013. Personally, I really like The Mirage as as host venue. It's located in a great central Vegas strip location. It features a little place called 'Rhumbar':the best cocktail/cigar patio on the Vegas Strip hands down! The Mirage is also a 5 minute walk to Casa Fuente, which is a Big Smoke weekend must visit.

While staying at the Mirage, I bumped into Gordon Mott, David Savona, and Carlito Fuente several times. I had the opportunity to chat with each of them casually outside of the cigar event, and they were all really cool, friendly people.


Strategy

Line up early! I lined up at 4:30, which was 2 hours ahead of doors open. I was within the first 30 people in the door. It was a long wait for 2 hours, but I ended up meeting some entertaining people to chat with. This is crucial if you are attending alone. The line eventually went as far back as the casino by doors open. That's a looooong way back! Sadly, smoking was not allowed in the line.


While waiting in the line, they come around and scan your ticket, pass out the cigar booklet, and give you a wrist band. This was great as it meant you could walk right in and get started!


The first booth for pretty well everyone seems to be Rocky Patel. After about 10 minutes, the line for his cigar is HUGE! I went there first and waited about 5 minutes. If you don't get there in the first 15 minutes, the line will be a very long wait.

A room shot while I stood at the Rocky Patel Line. 1 minute after doors open:



Once I made it through the RP situation and met RP himself, I started walking around collecting cigars. One thing that could be improved is the location of the vendors. They are each numbered, but not anywhere near one another. If you try to get the cigars in sequential order, you will end up zig zagging all over the hall, and I imagine it will take a very long time to find everything. What worked for me was to work half of the hall at one time working top to bottom. That took me an hour to complete, and I then took a 5 minute beer and food break.

New this year was a mobile app that had the floor map. It was definitely handy, but I found myself juggling a cigar, a bag of cigars, ticket booklet, and a beer. It's hard to manage with 2 hands. The ticket booklet itself was a little tricky to manage at times. Trying to find the ticket you need and rip it out in advance of your arrival at the cigar booth is a must. It's a challenge with your arms/hands full.

Cigar/Booze Table:


Regarding the booze...there was no shortage whatsoever of good stuff there to drink. My highlights were the Ron Zacappa Rum & associated girls, Glenfiddich, and Guiness Blonde (Excellent beer).


After 2 hours, I had completed the cigar booklet and had a very impressive haul of cigars and cigar swag...hats, torches, cutters..etc.



At this point, Carlito Fuente was really working the Fuente booth hard, signing autographs and taking photos, so I took the opportunity to meet him again. One of the nicest guys ever.

Delicia "The Cigar Vixen" walked past me, so I chatted with her for a few minutes. She in on FIRE...and yet another down to earth, friendly person.


At that point it was time to go meet up with my wife for a cigar and a few drinks over at Aria.



Conclusion:

Many of Dukeuni tips are right on the money. You can go it alone, it just takes a little more time to gather the cigars. There are lines, but they're not that bad. Light a cigar and relax!

Show the vendors a little love, and you'll find yourself with some extra cigars and swag along the way. Many people just rush around on a mission for cigars. I found taking the time to introduce myself to the creators of the brand/reps handing out cigars was really cool, and they were all genuinely appreciative of the attendees.

I noticed people near the end don't bother lining up for some of the cigars. They leave their unused cigar tickets on the tables next to the exit. I scored a half dozen more cigars at the end of the night using one of the ditched booklets.

What I really enjoyed about the Big Smoke weekend was randomly bumping into many high profile cigar people around the Mirage taking it easy outside of the cigar event. It was so cool to introduce myself and chat with them for a few minutes. Each one was interested in where I was from and thanked me for my support.

Now to time put on a winter jacket and plan for next year!!!


Last edited by pattersong; 11-13-2014 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:09 AM   #19
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

casa fuente is amazing
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Old 11-14-2014, 09:53 AM   #20
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Default Re: 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Review

Thank you so much for your pictures and update! This is turning out to be a very informative discussion thread for Big Smoke Reviews. If you do a Google search for "Big Smoke Review", this thread is right near the top!

I think this was a really great tip that I wish I would have done:

"I noticed people near the end don't bother lining up for some of the cigars. They leave their unused cigar tickets on the tables next to the exit. I scored a half dozen more cigars at the end of the night using one of the ditched booklets."
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