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Making the Most of Your Money in Las Vegas
 
Last Updated: Feb-12-2011, Hits: 2,428, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Making the Most of Your Money in Las Vegas
 
This is our guide to help you make the most of your money in Las Vegas. Over the long haul, the odds are eventually going to get you, but there are some things you can do to help manage your money better.

Hotel Rooms:
There are a couple of decisions you can make before ever setting foot in Vegas that can save a lot of money. Hotel rooms are substantially cheaper during the weekdays when there are less tourists in town. They are also cheaper during the blistering hot summer months. Another way to save money on hotel rooms is to stay off of The Strip. Fremont Street located downtown has a number of hotel casinos offering rates much less than those on The Strip.

Player's Cards and Comps:
Now let's get to the gambling. The very first thing you should do before you start gambling is visit the casino's hospitality desk and get a player's card. It doesn't matter if you are a high roller or not, you need to do this. These cards track your play at the casino and you can be awarded "comps" like free meals, free rooms, a discount on your room, room upgrades, show tickets, and other items depending on the casino.

If you make the mistake of playing slot machines, make sure you stick your player's card in the machine before you start playing and remember to take it with you when you are done. If you are playing table games, give the card to the dealer and she will get it to the pit boss for the purposes of tracking your play.

An interesting point about player's cards. The house doesn't base comps on how much you win or lose. It is your gambling habits (game played, time spent playing, and average bet) that they care about, not the results. From those criteria they can determine your expected (not actual) losses and most casinos' will return 20%-40% of that amount via comps.

Another important tip about player's cards. They are often transferable between properties owned by the same company. For example, ARIA, Circus Circus, The Luxor, Exalibur, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, Vdara and New York-New York are all owned by MGM International. Last time I stayed at the Luxor, we were able to use our players card at their other properties. Ask the hospitality desk at your hotel if there are other hotels you can use your card and make a point of doing your gambling at those places.

Finally, do not gamble outside your normal style and pace in order to get comps. Comps are not designed to recover your losses, and chasing comps this way will result in you losing a lot of money.

There are a couple of different approaches to collecting comps and it varies by place. If you complete an 8 hour stint at a blackjack table, for example, when you leave, you can ask the pit boss if they will comp you. Depending on your play, they may agree to some freebies. It is a little nerve racking to do this, but be bold and polite. The worst they can do is say "no". The other way is to take your player's card to the hospitality desk and see if you have enough points for a comp. Some people save all of their points until they check out of the hotel to get a discount on their room, others even save the points for their next trip. Keep in mind that most casinos have expiration dates for the points you accumulate.

If you are a high roller and plan to gamble a pretty good amount of money, you should speak with a casino host before you begin gambling. The host will ask you about your gambling habits and may pre-award you with comps if you meet the criteria agreed to. The amount of money to be considered for this varies by casino, however, if you plan to gamble $1,000 or more per day, it is definitely worth talking to them. We made an arrangement like this at The Wynn for free rooms. In return, we agreed to average $25 bets over an 8 hour period each day we were there.

If you plan on gambling over $10,000 per day, you should call the casino host before arriving and you may get comps before setting foot in the city.

Table Games:
The first thing you should know about table games is that not all games are created equal. Let's take a look at the house's advantage for several of the most popular table games.

Game Bet/Rules Advantage
Blackjack Single Deck 0.20%
Double Deck 0.35%
Four Decks 0.51%
Six Decks 0.60%
Spanish 21 Dealer hits soft 17 0.76%
Dealer stands on soft 17 0.40%
Baccarat Banker 1.06%
Player 1.24%
Tie 14.36%
Craps Pass/Come 1.41%
Don't pass/don't come 1.36%
Field (2:1 on 12) 5.56%
Field (3:1 on 12) 2.78%
Any craps 11.11%
Big 6,8 9.09%
Hard 4,10 11.11%
Hard 6,8 9.09%
Place 6,8 1.52%
Place 5,9 4.00%
Place 4,10 6.67%
Place (to lose) 4,10 3.03%
Proposition 2,12 13.89%
Proposition 3,11 11.11%
Proposition 7 16.67%
Pai Gow Poker One on one 1.46%
Roulette single zero 2.70%
double zero 5.26%
War Go to war on ties 2.88%
Surrender on ties 3.70%
Bet on tie 18.65%
Caribbean Stud Poker   5.22%
Keno   25%-29%

Keep in mind that the figures above assume perfect play. Player mistakes will add to the house advantage.

Looking at the table, you can see why games like Blackjack, Baccarat, and Craps are among the more popular options since they have some of the best odds for the gamer. So even if you are intimidated, it is worth learning these games. The casinos often have classes, the in-room hotel channel on TV teaches games, and dealers are usually pretty good about helping beginners.

The second thing you should know about is table games is that casinos vary widely when it comes to minimum bets. Places like the Bellagio and The Wynn typically have $25 minimums on blackjack. So if you have $200 to spend on gambling, you don't want to play at tables with a $25 minimum bet. You might be done in about 6 minutes. On The Strip, places like Casino Royale have much lower limits, and if you head downtown (Fremont), you will find plenty of options that may suit your budget.

If you are a newbie playing blackjack, do not sit immediately to the right of the dealer. This spot is known as 3rd base and many consider it an important position to the outcome of hands. If you make rookie mistakes at 3rd base, your tablemates are not going to be happy.

Slots:
We've looked at the odds for table games, now let's delve into the world of slots and why casinos love them so much. You may notice signs around town that say "we have the loosest slots in Vegas". Slot machine manufacturers offer a variety of computer chips for their slots, each with a different payout level. This range typically gives the house an advantage of somewhere between 2%-18%. Now compare that with some of the better table games. Compounding the problem is when a casino says they have the loosest slots, they may be referring to a bank of 4 of them that are set at 2% for the house and the rest in their casino could be running at 10% or more. You can ask the casino, but most likely you will never know which is which.

As a side note, if you really want to get rid of your money, try the slots at the airport. They are as tight as piano wire.

Free Drinks:
Every casino in Vegas I know of offers free drinks to gamblers. It is actually part of a ploy that helps them get your money, but it can also be a way to save a ton of money as drinks are expensive there. If you are in want of a free drink, but aren't in the gambling mood, or you are trying to preserve your funds, there are a couple of things you can do. First, you can go to the bar and put $5 in one of the video poker machines that nearly every casino bar in vegas has. Bet the minimum amount and play very slowly. You can probably get a couple of drinks in before your $5 runs out. If you are lucky, you might even get to walk away with your $5 or more. Another option is to sit down at a nickel slot and play slowly. Drink service at the slots is typically very spotty. When a waitress finally comes around, tip her at least $1 and she will come back.

Half Price Tickets:
So you're tired of gambling and its time to take in a show. There is no reason to pay full price for tickets to shows and events when you can get them greatly discounted. Tix4Tonight has 9 locations where you can purchase discounted show tickets. They are based on availability and a first come, first serve basis. Check their website for locations.

Mailing Lists:
Yes, we all get too much email, but signing up for a casino's mailing list is a great way to get special offers sent to you. I frequently get free and discounted room offers from The Mirage, The Luxor, and The Wynn. These deals are often not available via their websites or reservation line. Typically, you will be added to their mailing list when you sign up for your player's card. The offers you receive from them, may be based on the level of play you exhibited while visiting.

That's about it for our guide. If you know of any money saving tips for Vegas that we have left out, feel free to contact us.





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