Tips From a Vegas Virgin

welcome to vegas sign
(This is a guest post from my boy Philip – an avid reader of BudgetsAreSexy and now a more distinguished gentleman!)

So with my first trip to Vegas complete, I figured I’d take up J’s offer to share some of my money saving thoughts on the whole experience. A few of these tips may seem obvious to those who’ve been several times before, but for me there were quite a lot I wasn’t expecting! (Financially speaking anyways)  I will start off by stating, of course, that going out to Vegas ain’t the most frugal thing to do in the world, but vacation-wise it’s great!

Here are a few tips on how to save in Vegas:

  1. Bring your own case of beer to your room. I saw several people doing this and was very jealous since I was paying $5/beer.
  2. Sign up for the rewards cards at the casinos. Most of them give you something like 5 bucks for signing up that you can use at the slot machines – free gambling, can’t beat that.
  3. Play the table games during the day. The minimum bets goes up at night, and plus there is sooo much more that you can/should do at night instead of sitting there gambling away. (Editor’s note: Unless you’re a huge poker fan and you’re going specifically to play with the big boys! :))
  4. Be careful with minimums. Just because a game says it has a minimum of $10 doesn’t mean it ends there. There is a good chance that to actually play the hand, you will have to increase your bet multiple times just to have a shot at winning (sometimes dropping 4 times as much each hand!)
  5. Penny slots do not mean you are playing one penny at a time. One penny = one credit.  A few machines do allow you to play 1 line for 1 credit, but it is more tempting to play 20 lines at the same time @ 20 credits per line!  (Which is $4.00 for you non-math people)
  6. Look for VIP passes when hitting the clubs at night. It seemed that most everyone had one, but some people were paying way more at the door than others.  I think there was a lot more I needed to learn on this one.
  7. The strip and “downtown” (where the huge overhead light show thing is) are different places. You get to see a whole different crowd hanging downtown making it fun to people watch. But even better, it seemed like the minimums there were much lower and the slots paid out better too! (I actually came out ahead gambling downtown).
  8. There’s an all-you-can-eat 24 hour buffet pass good at several places! Something I should have avoided :) With everything else that is going on (and all the drinks being had while gambling) you just don’t get hungry that fast, and you don’t want to go sit in line to get more food.  Just go to restaurants to buy food. If you’re in the the mood for a buffet, that’s cool, but just pick up that one meal since you won’t eat much after that.
  9. Have some $1’s with you! When you are playing the slots, they don’t actually pay out cash or even tokens anymore. You get these slips of paper instead, then when the waitress comes by and gives you another drink, it’s customary to tip them a dollar. (Bring plenty!  They keep offering you more and more :))
  10. Drinks directly from the bar are expensive! Just sit at one of the penny slots for a minute playing the real 1 line 1 credits, and those same cocktail waitresses will come by and you order another long island!  Otherwise you will be paying $5+ for the same thing!
  11. People everywhere drink those frozen drinks from the “yards”. (They look like this) If you have to have one, just aim for the smaller version which won’t melt nearly as fast as the big ones!

All those other tips work too – “only bring what you can afford” and “don’t keep gambling more than you should” – but you’ve all heard those before so hopefully these others help out as well.

Good luck out there, and have some fun!

P.S. Before you ask, I ended up down about $300 from the gambling over the weekend, but well within what I had set aside for the trip; no beginner’s luck for me!

Editor’s note: This reminds me of my own crazy adventures back in the day. Back when my 9-5 was raking in all sorts of sick revenue, and this blog was just a wee baby! If you’re looking for a list of ways NOT to spend your hard-earned money in Vegas, this is the post to read next ;)

(Sizzling pic from szlea)

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  1. Philip August 26, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    Sweet, I am an official guest blogger now on the best blog out there!

  2. Money Beagle August 26, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Great advice. I’d also make a note to learn the rules of the games you play. People at blackjack tables, for example, will get annoyed by you very quickly if you don’t follow some of the standard rules for how to play.

    The one thing I always found hilarious when playing blackjack is the tipping / getting angry at the dealer, depending on how your luck is going. The dealer is just dealing the cards and playing by the strict rules that they must, but they can either become your best friend or worst enemy based on how the cards are falling and whose side of the table the chips are landing. I did the right thing and would tip the dealer if things were going really well, but I would usually do it by playing a hand for the dealer so he/she was playing against themselves.

  3. Techbud August 26, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    Best tip was at the end of the post. “only bring what you can afford” and “don’t keep gambling more than you should”

    Only bring what you can afford to lose, don’t stuff the rent money in your pocket and think you will parlay it into a cool million.

  4. Molly On Money August 26, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    On my second trip down the aisle I got married in Vegas and we brought along our two young children. It’s illegal for kids to hang out in the casino so as we were at our hotel walking from the lobby to the elevator you had to walk thru the casino. If the kids doddled for a second a security person would come along and tell me to keep moving. One day my kid decided to throw the mother of all mother temper tantrums right in the middle of the casino as we were making our way to the elevator. She wouldn’t move and if I picked her up she started kicking me. I’m not stupid- I moved back. A security person came up and told me to move along. I looked at him like he was crazy. I was VERY tempted to move right along and leave her there to finish her tantrum!
    We didn’t have a chance to gamble!

  5. Jenna August 26, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    I’ve never stayed in Vegas but isn’t there ways to get cheap (free) drinks and cheap tickets to shows? I’m sure with some flexibility in your schedule you should be able to enjoy other things in Vegas than just the gambling.

  6. Evan August 26, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    Last time I was in Vegas (about a month ago) we walked to the strip stopping at all the cheap drink places! They are hard to find but how do you pass up 1 dollar beers and 3 dollar irish car bombs at 11am!

  7. Pretty Unfamous August 26, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    The BEST tip for Las Vegas is just being a girl and going with a group of girl friends. We got comp’ed alcohol in all the clubs and no cover.

    Also, save up your loose change for awhile and bring THAT as your gambling money. But make sure to cash it in as dollar bills BEFORE you get to the casino–a lot of casinos won’t take and cash in your dimes because they don’t have dime slots in the casino. My friends brought a ton of change one time and had to dig out all the dimes before the cashier would take the rest.

  8. J. Money August 26, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    Philip – Should I get your autograph now, or later? :)

    Money Beagle – Haha oh yeah, people get p-i-s-s-e-d at the tables! And @ dealers…. The very last time I was there I had a bit too much to drink (shocker) and was actually WINNING for once in Hold ‘Em to the point I started actually feeling bad for the others at the table (it was the alcohol!). So one time, after winning I’d say about $300 off 1 hand, I tried giving all the money back to them and said someting like “That was a tough break fellas, here, have your money back!” And I about got killed. My good deed made me look like a big asshole and people left the table (only 1 person took the money :) ) and the dealer said if I did it again I’d be thrown out.

    So yes, pay attention to the rules and the cues! Especially the latter – dealers have no problem explaining the game to newbies.

    Techbud – Some people get away with it though ;)
    Vegas Mish – Thx!
    Molly On Money – Hahhaa… at least you came out with a nice story ;) Much better than -$200.
    Jenna – Yup, TONS of stuff to do there. And cheap too if you research enough. I’ve got with people who don’t gamble and they’re always getting into something.
    Evan – I like the way you think, sir!
    Pretty Unfamous – You girls get it GOOOOOOOOD there, you’re right on that :) And also at places here in D.C. SO many “girls night” themes at bars/clubs where you get the hook up.

  9. Clare August 27, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Thank you for this post! I’m headed there over Labor Day Weekend and having never been, these tips are amazing.

  10. J. Money August 28, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    You’re gonna have so much fun :) Take it all in and just enjoy my friend.

  11. Buffet September 1, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    Why would I want beer in my room?? I’m not an alcoholic.