Jan 15
by Rolka Nation

First things first.  I’m sure you were all on the edge of your desk chairs wondering if I would take up the Venetian on its free suite offer.  Well alas, I have decided to pass.  Too many factors were going against on this particular one including funds and too short of notice to find a travel mate.  I was still pondering going solo, but no dice this time.  You win this round, sensible head!

Ok; on to the good stuff.  You may recall a few months back that I wrote a piece on maximizing your Vegas fun for as little bread as possible.  If you’re new to the site or want a refresher, click here.  The pointers outlined in that post were of the general variety and can come in handy for any Vegas trip.  But let’s get more specific shall we?  Countless hours of hardcore Pittsburgh Gil-style research has resulted in these gems for your perusing pleasure:

– Deuces Wild!  Now through 3/1, enjoy $22 nights, $2 Blackjack, $2 beer, $2 tequila, and $2 hot dogs and nachos at The Plaza and Vegas Club downtown.  You must have a 2 night minimum stay and most Sun-Thurs nights are available.  I have not been to The Plaza but apparently the Rat Pack show there is great fun.  I have been to the Vegas Club casino and enjoyed the layout and decor.  This is an outstanding deal.

– $1 Blackjack on The Strip!  Hard to believe these days; but true.  The Sahara is currently dealin’ out $1 BJ along with dollar beers, shots, and hot dogs near the NASCAR Cafe area of the casino. I’ve also read reports (although unconfirmed) that they open additional $1 tables on the main floor during the week.  While there, see if you can finish the Cafe’s 6 pound burrito and score it for free along with unlimited lifetime rollercoaster rides.  Don’t stay here though.

Rubbin' is racin' sound bite

– Free Grub!  As you all know, Ellis Island is my favorite off-the-beaten-path spot in Vegas.  Part of the reason why is because they always have great promotions.  Currently, play an hour at the tables and get a free entree in the great restaurant.  Play 2 hours, get 2 entrees!  Tables are limited here but usually include 1-2 $5 single deck BJ games.  Excellent promo.

– Free Booze Center Strip!  Planet Hollywood is offering a cool promo that runs through May.  Book a room for as low as $69 (many, but not all Sun-Thurs nights) and pick out your very own free bottle of wine, champagne, or liquor delivered right to your room.  That definitely meets my approval, especially considering the quality of resort at that price.

– Gambling AND Chicken Wings!  Not just a cheesy chain eatery, but also a cheesy Vegas hotel.  The Hooters casino resort is currently offering a sweet package that runs all the way to August.  Rates as low as $20 a night during the week and just $49 on the weekend can score you an upgraded room, $100 of slot promo play (which is pretty lame actually), 2 tickets to their comedy show (which is also probably lame, but can’t say for sure), and 2-for-1 breakfast.  I normally would not recommend a deal at a kitschy off-strip joint (and here is yet another reason why you shouldn’t actually stay at Hooters), but I actually kind of like the casino here for novelty’s sake and its easy walking distance to MGM, NYNY, Excalibur, etc.

– Half Price Hugo’s!  I never knew this service existed until recently.  You’ve probably all heard of or seen the Tix4Tonight booths spread over town where you can pick up vastly discounted same night show tickets.  Well, they have the same concept for restaurants now also.  Visit any of the Tix4Tonight locations, make a reservation for that night through them, pay $2 for a buffet or $3 for a nicer place, and get a voucher for half off your entree!  At the high-end joints, that can equate to $20-30 saved.  At least 30 restaurants and buffets are offered including some at Harrah’s, Mandalay, Caesar’s, and Bally’s.  And the crown jewel that is Hugo’s Cellar is also available here.  Go there and get an amazing meal, like I outlined here , for a mere $18 with this offer.  Note:  I have read that the half-price vouchers are for the entree ONLY so if it’s a steakhouse or similar, you’re on your own for the sides.

Jul 16
by Rolka Nation

Greetings!  Your ol’ pal Pittsburgh Gil is a man of many reputations.  One thing that I am certainly known for amongst my inner-circle is a tendency to be a little frugal.  Some would even say that I’m downright cheap.  Now I wouldn’t quite go that far, but sure, I do admit that I can be a little tight at times.  But, not too long ago I pinpointed this personal trait and now understand and embrace it.  I’ve learned that I am far from cheap/frugal when it comes to having great, fun experiences.  What I mean by this is that I’ll go all out on things that one does not get to do every day or have consistently easy access to.  Examples of these types of things would be traveling, going to a concert or theater performance, going whitewater rafting, checking out an amusement park or water park, etc.  However, where my penny-pinching comes into play is in regard to things of the complete opposite.  And by that I mean life’s nagging little necessities.  You know…clothing, food, hydration, etc. 


Kenny Powers is my hero...To quote Kenny Powers, “I have clothes like a fuckin’ dickhead”.  Yes, ’tis true.  I simply do not care to pour a lot of attention, effort, or money into my wardrobe.  I get by ok though, I’m not coming into work looking like Kevin Costner in Waterworld or anything…but you get the point.  When it comes to food though, I definitely do enjoy a fine meal and a tasty beverage.  However, I’ve always had trouble forking out $50+ for a simple meal.  No matter how good it might be, I’d rather just hit up a decent bar and get a good burger or pile of nachos for 1/5th of that cost.  After all, the end result is always the same.  You’re full and don’t have to worry about eating again for 5-7 hours.  Well, unless you’re a greedy, gluttonous sloth-like person.  Like Matthew Broderick.Matthew Broderick is not.


This philosophy comes into play hardcore in Vegas.  You’re bombarded by luxury hotels and suites, high-priced restaurants by celebrity chefs, and fancy bars or clubs where a drink will run you over $10.  These things are great, but I don’t go to Vegas to eat and drink well.  Sure, that’s a fantastic byproduct of being in Vegas…but I’m there for the gaming, shows, and all the fun that comes along with that. 


So…here are Pittsburgh Gil’s tips to save a little green in Vegas, but not compromising any of the fun!


– Either start or end your trip on a Saturday.  I’ve always liked this and have done it several times.  Either go out to Vegas on a Saturday and stay 3-4 nights or go out on Tuesday or Wednesday and leave Saturday.  Why?  Well, for starters…hotels will be less.  We all know hotel rates triple on Fri and Sat nights, especially on the Strip. This way you only have to bother with 1 night of pricey accommodations and savor the $30-50 a night specials the other nights.  Killer.  Sundays are typically the most expensive day to fly as well.


– Spend a night downtown in Old Vegas.  I love to start my trip downtown.  The hotels are cheaper, the table games have lower limits, and you can find great meals for under $10.  I have stayed at both Fitzgerald’s and Binion’s on a Saturday for about $40 and had a blast.  Compare that to potential $150-200 a night rates on the Strip that very same date.  No-brainer.  The rooms aren’t fantastic, but who gives a damn, it’s your first night in Vegas and you’ll move up to bigger and better accommodations soon enough.  If you want to splurge a little, stay at The Golden Nugget.  It would fit in just fine on the Strip. 


Downtown is where to be to start your trip of right, which is to say for less!


Great dining options downtown include the 777 Brewpub at Main Street Station, the Main Street Station buffet, Magnolia’s at Four Queens ($8 prime rib dinner with club sign-up), Chicago Brewing Company at Four Queens, and Flame at El Cortez.  I forget the name, but Four Queens also has an awesome, retro steakhouse in the basement.  And I have to mention the 99 cent shrimp cocktail at Golden Gate. 


For shows, I’ve heard great things of the Rat Pack is Back show at The Plaza downtown and the Golden Nugget always has multiple entertainment offerings and a shark tank at their pool to boot.  For gaming, you can’t beat 24 hour a day quarter roulette and $2 blackjack at Cortez and pretty much any downtown casino will have the same…although possibly only during the daylight hours.  Another great thing about downtown is that all the casinos are lined up long a mere 4 blocks and the street is pedestrian-only.  It’s very quick and easy to casino-hop here, unlike the Strip.


– Always check what offers you have at casinos room-wise before you go.  I haven’t paid full price on the Strip in a long long time and never intend to ever again.  If you don’t have any play racked up, check out the casino’s websites and sign up for their email newsletters to receive specials on room rates.  Check sites like travelzoo.com as well for published specials.  If you know what you’re doing, you’ll always get a room discount in some shape or form.  For my upcoming Labor Day trek, I’m paying a grand total of $150 for 4 nights over a holiday weekend center-Strip at Harrah’s.  Can’t beat that with a rubber snake.


– Of course, always sign up the casino’s Player’s Club.  Always.  Just do it.  Even if you don’t foresee yourself playing there all that much, still do it.  Sometimes you’ll get a free gift just for taking 3 minutes to sign up.  I’ve gotten T-shirts, free slot play, decks of cards, and more.  It amazes me when I see people droppin’ cash in a casino but not bothering to sign up.  I have also heard, but have yet to try, that you can rack up 2 free buffets at The Wynn fairly easily based on your play in the first 24 hours after signing up for the club.


Better than the Bond Movie thanks to those crazy coupons– Go to Casino Royale!  This is one of my favorites on the Strip for good, cheap gaming fun.  It’s right next to Harrah’s and quite small.  Sign up for their club and get coupons for free play and free drinks plus one that I always take advantage of.  They always have a coupon that will pay you $10 cash if you hit a spin of 40 credits or more while playing the Wheel of Fortune slots.  If you’re gonna play a few slots anyway, why not do this?  I’ve gotten it every time with minimal play.  There’s also one for $20 in cash if hitting 4-of-a-kind on video poker.  I’ve cashed in on that successfully as well.  Royale also has a lively atmosphere and plays good music. 


I will stop there for now kids!  But stay tuned for the sequel where I will outline even more ways to throwdown in Vegas for minimal coin.