Las Vegas on the Cheap


[Here’s Mitch’s Las Vegas Primer. I was supposed to cross-post, and I’m not really sure how I screwed that one up; my only excuse is that I’ve been really busy catching up on work to go to Vegas, and the more numbers that go through my head, the less bright I become. Those are the times I concentrate on smiling and looking pretty, so that’s probably about all I’ll be able to do when I finally get there. P.S. this took about 10 minutes to type :/ ]

In honor of our upcoming trip to Vegas, I will let you know how we did the cheap thing there in the past. Most of these won’t apply to this trip because we are staying somewhere nice and safe, but you can never be too careful.

The first thing you should know is that cheap in Vegas means dangerous. The more a place costs, the safer it is. Downtown Fremont Street is cheap to stay and to gamble, but it is very dangerous. The more a place costs, the nicer it is, the more they pay for security, and the safer it is. I like Fremont Street, in spite of the danger; everything is close together and there’s a Walgreens if you forgot to pack something.

Downtown at night, about a third of all people are predators, a third are security and the remaining third are marks (you, lol). That homeless looking guy with no teeth sitting on the trashcan is security. Whatever you do, do not do a bunch of mushrooms and go to Fremont to watch the laser show. A shit-eating grin is to predators like fresh brains are to a zombie. A, uh, friend told me 🙂

Do not take anything to Vegas that you can’t replace. If you take extra jewelry, carry it with you. Do not leave anything of any value (cash, credit cards, jewelry, cameras, etc.) in your hotel room because you luggage will be riffled daily if you are staying somewhere cheap. Those hiding places that you think are really good are the first places the thieves look. Carry everything of any value with you at all times. The best plan is to leave anything at home that you might cry if you lost.

Bring doorstops with you and use them on the adjoining room doors. I think it is against fire codes to use them on the main door, but you can always use a chair on that one. Carry a messenger’s bag instead of a purse. It is big enough to hold everything, it can easily be worn across your torso, the large flap across the front is hard to reach into, and the straps are thick enough to deter a purse-snatcher. You can get a good, cheap one at the Army Surplus. Plus it has plenty of room for your flask.

I haven’t been to Vegas in a couple of years, but I go every few years for the last 20 years. It can be a pretty expensive place to party if you are just wandering around and not gambling. Last time I was there, it cost $6 for a Miller Lite at a casino bar downtown, and that’s cheap. I think it cost $9 for one at Margaritaville on the Strip. This adds up fast over the course of a day.

To get a free drink while out wandering around, go up to the bar and sit down at one of the poker machines. Put a $20 in the machine and play it (they actually have pretty good odds, and you will usually come out of it with the same $20 you put into it). The bartender will give you a chit to sign, and you sign it and give him a tip. Note: you can only do this to each bar every few hours, because the bartenders have strict rules, but usually each casino will have two or three different bars, so you can get pretty trashed after two or three casinos.

Another thing is that there are convenience stores that sell beer and sometimes booze. If all you are doing is wandering around seeing the sights, go in one of those, get a beer, and walk around with that. I have an 8oz flask that I will be wandering around with. Then there’s that whole drinking in your room before leaving it. Some people go to Vegas strictly to gamble, so their drinking is taken care of, but I usually end up wandering around most of the time.

Sign up for the Player’s Club. This won’t do a damn thing for you if you play the slots, but if you play table games, you can get some serious comps. We ate many a meal on the casino. We heard that you can also get room upgrades and other comps as well. I probably will only do this at my home casino because when you are with a group of people gambling, they are usually pretty mobile.

Always put out a $100 when you use your players card. It gives you comps out the wazoo, but you still need to gamble like you colored up for $20. American male dealers (croupiers) are the best because you can get them talking, they get into a rhythm, and you can bet according to numbers that have previously come up. Nuthin’ sweeter than a repeater! Asian females are the worst because they will not talk to you, they are completely random, and they play too fast to get a good grip on the table. While playing, if you have used your players card, ask for a meal.

If you jaywalk, the cabs will run you down and the cops will issue you a $90 ticket. Vegas is hard-core about jaywalking. Don’t do it. Do not do what we did and decide to jaywalk out to take a good picture of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. It is very dangerous and stupid, and the cops will circle you like sharks. I have heard that since we did that, Vegas has put a parking lot by the sign so that people can safely go out to there.

Start every adventure, especially bus (The Deuce) adventures, with a bottle of water. Do ride The Deuce (a double-decker bus that goes to downtown and the strip). Buy the 24 hour pass for $5 and ride it in the morning. Don’t try to ride the Deuce at night because it stops so often and for so long that walking is faster; if you need to go somewhere at night either walk or take a cab (you could do a limo of course, but that’ll cost you). We like to ride in the front window upstairs of the Deuce. You can ride around all morning and get a good view of all of Vegas.

Rent Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas to watch before going to get you in the right spirit. It is a good training film. Oh yeah, if you expect to go to the revolving bar in Circus Circus to get smashed and recreate the famous scene from the movie, you can’t. It is closed. Sometimes you just can’t go home again. Now Circus Circus is a kiddie place where you play games for stuffed animals.

Have T-shirts made before you go that say “I don’t want to buy a ticket/time-share”, because you will be inundated by salespeople hawking those. Maybe make a T-shirt for the girls that say “Not for Hire” because if you stand outside the men’s restroom waiting for your husband, you will get a lot of offers for a “date”. Go for it and make some extra cash for the trip! It stays in Vegas! (oh yeah, except for The Herp – you take that home with you).


14 thoughts on “Las Vegas on the Cheap

  1. Peregrine John

    An exception to the cheap hotel observation (which is generally true): South Point, which is neither on the Strip nor on Fremont, is both (relatively) inexpensive and very safe. Plus it has a horse arena, which works for me. It’s about 2 miles south of the Strip, which also means it’s easier to get to if you’re coming up the 15 and traffic is bad – both of which are usually the case for me. You can’t be one of the people staggering drunkenly along the Strip if you’re based there, but that’s also why it’s a nice place that’s inexpensive and also safe, all at once: the drunkenly staggering crowds, and the vermin they attract, simply aren’t there.

  2. TempestTcup Post author

    Ah, good point. I haven’t been outside of the strip or downtown. Outside of downtown is much, much more dangerous than Fremont Street, but I didn’t know if outside of the Strip was.

    I have a feeling that most of our activities will be mostly based in the Bellagio, but I will probably be out and about during the early day (and not staggering drunkenly about, LOL).

  3. Peregrine John

    Bellagio is verruh verruh nice. Also close enough to the Strip without being mired in the middle of it. I mean, I love Caesar’s Palace, and it’s got one of the few malls I’ll cheerfully visit, but man is it in the middle of every kind of traffic.

  4. TempestTcup Post author

    Yes, I had to go shopping for fancy clothes and shoes even! I still need a fancy bathing suit and coverup. I may go broke before I even get there, lol.

    The strip has changed so much since I first went there in 1994. Now there are all kinds of street vendors and M&M shops, etc.

  5. Keoni Galt

    When you talk about the Fremont Street being dangerous…have you been there since they renovated the whole place and turned it into the “Fremont Street Experience?” That place is much different than it was before…and I was just there last year. One other noticeable thing was I saw way more bicycle cops patrolling the area and not much riff raff hoodlum types you’re warning about here.

    As for saving money on drinks…go to any grocery store and buy your booze. Vegas is one of the only places in the country where it’s completely legal to carry and drink booze openly 24 hours in the downtown/strip area. You can literally sit down on the sidewalk and pound a bottle of booze without worry…of course disorderly conduct can still get you busted.

    Oh, and if you do the play the slots to get “free” drinks, make sure you tip the waitress really well. That will ensure she comes around and checks on you often. Tip her cheaply, and it may be 15 – 20 minutes or more before she comes back around in your vicinity.

  6. TempestTcup Post author

    @Keoni Galt

    I haven’t been in a few years, but I usually stay downtown and have been doing so since it was really bad. Sounds like they’ve cleaned the place up! And the bicycle cops are new; last time I went either they were all undercover or private security.

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