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.