The Spicy Meatball

Tips for Surviving Vegas on a Budget

We just got back from a trip to Vegas. Maybe I should take a second to point out that I am a notoriously cheap person. It could stem from living on my own for 7 years and having to make sure I can 1. pay rent, 2. eat, and 3. have some sort of social life. Or, it could be that I come from parents who always made me think that we were one step away from the homeless shelter, so I rarely asked for and rarely received many hand outs. Either way, my cheapness knows no bounds, so when I heard I would be going to Vegas on business my first thought was, "AWESOME!" and my second thought was, "I can't afford that!" Jokingly, I posted a message to Facebook that said, "How long till I lose the $200 I brought for 4 days? #vegasrookie." (Yes, I hashtag on FB, I think it's funny.) But right after I posted it I thought, "Actually, that's about all I want to spend so I'm going to see if I can make this work." Turns out, I did make it work. Here's how: 1. Turn Slots into a Game The first night, Boyfriend and I hit up Planet Hollywood with the intent to hit the jackpot and coast for the rest of the trip. A friend's brother recently hit it big on the slots, so I thought FOR SURE I would be able to retire by the end of 2012. Not so. In less than 5 minutes my $20 slots buy-in turned into $0 and I had a panic attack. "How the hell am I going to make $200 last in Vegas if I dropped $20 without even getting my first drink?!" After the meltdown, Boyfriend saw the whole trip falling apart before his eyes. I'm sure he thought I would force him to stay in the room and watch free Showtime, so to avoid that he played right into the core of my being. "Let's turn this into a game!" Gasp! "What a perfect idea!" Game Rules:
  1. Move from slot machine to slot machine every time you win. Don't try to double up, don't try to hit the jackpot, just celebrate the small wins.
  2. Make sure you're vibing with the slot machine before you sit down. Let it call to you. Listen carefully.
  3. If you lose 3 times in a row on one machine, move on.
  4. Drink a lot.
The results:  In 4-5 hours, we turned $20 into $60 at Plant Hollywood, $20 into $80 at Bellagio, $20 into $60 at Caesars. Of course we lost it the next day, but it was sooooo much fun...and it killed a day.

Played the same game as my friend's brother. Nothing!

2. Eat and Drink Cheap After all that gambling, you have to eat. If you're a cheapo like me, prepare yourself ahead of time. There are very few options for cheap food. I recommend pizza. Almost every hotel has it and you can sustain on pizza and free alcohol for at least one day. Probably more. We hit up the buffet ($60 for two people) and The Earl of Sandwich ($5/sandwich) a couple of times and it was plenty. Make no mistake, next time I'm there, I'm bringing extra food money because there is so much fancy shmancy food to choose from. While Vegas known for free drinks when you gamble, there aren't a lot of cocktail waitresses that want to chase you around the casino (see Turns Slots into a Game) to give you a free drink. Think ahead and hit up Walgreens for some booze and mixers. Pregame in the room, then hit the casinos. 3. Don't Gamble During The Day Thankfully, I was in Vegas on business so I had a 9-5 packed schedule of conference meetings to attend.  So for the majority of the days, I couldn't gamble. I highly recommend finding something else to do during the day. Vegas is full of all sort of great people watching, poolside sitting, and shopping for stuff you can't afford. I recommend busying yourself with other activities and waiting until at least 5 pm to start throwing your money away. Plus all the crazies come out at night and they're lots of fun to compete with for table space/slot machines. 4. Play Roulette On the last night of our trip the score was me -$150 and Boyfriend -$200. We decided to take our home turf for everything it had. One tip we picked up along the way is that roulette has some of the best odds in Vegas. We chose to play red or black only. Yes, we could pick numbers and win more, but it's pretty sweet when all you have to do is pick a color and double up. The video machines are the best way to play roulette because it shows you the last few rolls, which we used to inform our color choice. More often than not it paid off. At the end of the trip, I was still down $150 but Boyfriend came home even (he's ballsier with his bets than me). Not too bad for 4 days in Vegas. On a side note: We were obsessed with our hotel room. Check it out!

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