Las Vegas on the Cheap

(First in a series)


Free Drinks - One of the amenities that Las Vegas is famous for providing to its players is free drinks. Many casinos and nearly all bars have a "players drink free" policy. So, how do you get one of these free drinks?

Don’t let the alcohol impair your judgement. You can also request coffee, tea, soda, etc. I’ve seen perfectly capable basic-strategy blackjack players get stupid. Playing hunches and doubling bets playing "catch-up". Doesn’t work, but then again that’s what some folks WANT to do!

Casino floor - That’s easy - just sit in front of a slot or video poker machine, and sooner or later you’ll hear the waitress "cocktail, cocktails…", or ask any passing by change attendant to summon the cocktail waitress for you. The drink is free, but if you’re planning on staying in that same spot for a while, and you might like another drink some time in the future - don’t forget to tip the waitress - or she’s likely to forget about you! If you’re playing a table game (blackjack, craps, roulette) the waitress should come around, if she doesn’t ask the dealer to get her for you. Same advice about tipping applies.


Bars- this applies both to casino and non-casino bars. Procedure: Sit down at the bar, order your drink AND a roll of coins at the same time. For example "I’d like a Blutz draft and a roll of quarters." Then give the bartender a twenty. He should then return with your beverage, a ($10) roll of quarters (actually nickels work too, but are harder to find machines for), and ten dollars cash. Many places also bring you a receipt and a pen to sign with. Don’t worry, write anything you like on paper, eventually the bartender will collect this (nobody knows where these receipts end up). So, now you’re enjoying your free drink and you’re thinking "How do I get another one?" First off, most places will keep an eye on you to see if you’re actually playing. Some places (the good ones) will keep your drink refilled indefinitely - as long as you’re playing. Other establishments have a "one roll - one drink" policy. In other words, they’ll "give" you a drink every time you buy another ($10) roll of quarters. Now most of these places assume that if you’re asking for a roll of quarters it must be because you lost your last roll. But this is not necessary, the true ‘cheapster’ buys rolls whenever he’s thirsty, not when he’s lost his quarters. Nothing says you can’t have credits remaining on the machine when you buy-in for another roll. And nothing says you can’t cash it all out at the end, and have the bartender convert it back into paper money. I’ve never seen a bartender check for zero credits, but it’s always possible. Final Warning. Free drinks can be expensive! If you end up dropping three rolls ($30) and you only had three drinks - well you figure.


Free Smokes - The practice of handing out free tobacco has become quite rare, but it still exists. While playing blackjack I’ve seen people ask for cigarettes, and the Pit Boss would bring over a box filled with assorted brands (loose), and allow the player to choose. Sometimes you can do better. Recently I was playing blackjack in a casino with a couple of out-of-town buddies. One of them called the Pit Boss over and asked "Hey, I’ve heard that if I ask you for a cigar that you’ll get me one. Is that true?" The Pit Boss feigned ignorance, disappeared and soon returned with a cigar for my friend. Emboldened by his success, the other friend and I asked the Pit Boss if WE could have cigars. He gave us each one. As the three of us puffed away, playing blackjack, I noticed that on the blackjack table we were seated at, a small plastic sign announcing this as a "non-smoking table". I nudged my friends and pointed to the sign. Without a word the dealer reached over and flipped the sign face down on the table.


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