Saving Cash in Las Vegas

Las Vegas StripWe just got back from Las Vegas, a fun and exciting city designed entirely to suck money out of suckers’ pockets. So here are my top tips for coming home from with at least enough cash to get your car out of the airport parking lot:

1. Time it right. Las Vegas room rates are less predictable than airfares, owing not only to seasonal fluctuations but to the schedules of major conventions and other events. When choosing travel dates, plan well ahead, go directly to the hotel websites, check the rate calendars for the best prices and book those dates. In general, Fridays and Saturday nights cost more. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a particular bargain.

2. Don’t gamble. If it weren’t a losing proposition for the gambler, casinos wouldn’t exist. If you must gamble, pick a low-stakes game with decent odds so you will lose less money and it will take longer. There’s a single-zero penny video roulette game at The Four Queens downtown where I swear it could take me all day to lose the price of a latte. At that rate, it’s cheap entertainment, not real gambling.

3. Take an airport shuttle to your hotel. The cost of $6 or $7 a person is usually lower than the cost of a taxi, unless there are more than two of you.

4. Bring enough cash. The casino ATMs typically charge $4.95 per transaction, on top of what your bank may charge you. So if you withdraw money to gamble, you’ve already lost before you start playing.

5. Tip the casino cocktail waitresses. Yes, they’ll bring you free drinks but if you don’t tip, they’ll go elsewhere. And if you give them a few bucks in advance and ask them to keep coming, they’ll do that.

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