Viva Las Vegas living: keep your wallet fat with our beat the house budgeting and other top tips

Don’t let the allure of the lights blind you out or break your bank. Want to know when and where to grab the best pizza for half price? scrumptious BBQ and free beer?

Spend a few minutes with us and bookmark this INTERACTIVE MAP post…

When you work in Vegas, you live Vegas. But you will bust faster than hitting on hard 17s if you keep paying Strip prices.

We have done Vegas as both tourist and resident.

Our Interactive Map of Vegas Values

Our taste might not be your taste — for instance, if you want to know how to find a sex worker, that’s not something we know offhand, although a few minutes walk down the Strip and we know odds are, you’ll figure it out.

We do enjoy decent food at decent prices. We are connoisseurs of beer and an occasional cocktail. We love shows, CONCERTS and sports.

No Dark Side to the Roger Waters concert at TMobile Arena 2017. We don’t need no education to know this bucket lister tops our charts.

This labor of love began when friends heading to Vegas for the first time asked us for tips. So you can follow this link to our creation — to view this work in progress in Google. Or enjoy it as an embedded map, here:

The map reveals our opinions on the best of the best (and some of the worst) so far from our 15 combined years living in and visiting Vegas. If a pin has photos, we uploaded the first three or four. A few business pins have permanent photos that appear after ours.

We may never finish as far as adding and deleting links and photos and pins. By no means have we tried everything yet in the Vast City of Neon, so please share your thoughts in the comments.

And, as we reflect on the enjoyed experiences, we understand the uncertainty of anything ever being the same after the pandemic.

Advice on how to save money in Vegas

Enjoy the Strip but embrace off-Strip

Our map includes where to find on the Strip some scrumptious 24 layer chocolate cake (Strip House) or Crepes (LaCreperie).

And whether you decide to ramble a rather large city block hike off the Strip to Ellis Island or drive a few miles to South Point, our map covers Strip and off Strip places where we go again and again.

Any time we go somewhere again and again, that’s saying something. Because AJ never once returned to a place she swore off. With her, a biz only gets one chance to screw up.

AJ has a rule: Businesses must — when advertising discounts — honor the offer. No bait and switch. No fine print shadiness.

Stratosphere now offers True Rewards

Ways we save in Vegas:

  • Groupons and other web coupons (occasionally something like TravelZoo)
  • Coupons from local Magazines like Las Vegas Weekly (paper copies available in eateries and lobbies)
  • Offer booklets hotels give at check-in and in-room magazines.
  • Players’ club discounts and comps such as Caesars and MLife
  • Employee / service industry / senior discounts

RVegas and RVoyager info

Lots of casinos around the country offer RV spaces with hookups and of course some players club discounts. Vegas is no exception:

We haven’t tried those… yet.

We LOVED docking RVoyager in the adults only Las Vegas RV Resort

  • walk to Sam’s Town
  • save with monthly rate
  • no screaming kids in pool or hot tub
  • lobby piano

RVoyager also ported at North Las Vegas Elks Lodge

  • hookups
  • dump station
  • cheap domestic beer


Accumulate reward bucks for comps in advance

If you plan to drive a car (aka your Toad or in our case, the Delta Flyer), parking will cost more than a couple slot sessions. To save that cash for the inside of the casino, our map pins where we avoid charges downtown by parking and playing at Binion’s or Four Queens.

For parking on the Strip and lots more perks, we recommend that you apply for and use casino credit cards.

MLife Rewards Mastercard and Caesars Rewards Visa automatically boost your player status that one level needed for more comps like free parking.

Some times in some places you still need top tier for premium free parking. So learn to avoid those times (say, Friday and Saturday night at Planet Hollywood) and arrive earlier or later.

R&R with comps at the RIO. A margarita at Guy Fieri’s and hello Mr. Chips.

The reward credit cards also pile up dollars you spend like cash on the properties.

But some bait and switch comes with the territory. ALWAYS CONFIRM…

You might reward yourself a late brunch at the American Diner in the RIO, but you can’t use rewards for the delicious lunch buffet at Royal India. Always ask. Unless the place is a Caesar or MGM original, you either can’t use rewards or, as is the case with some chains renting casino space, you must cough up double the reward bucks, rather than spend dollar for dollar.

Slot lovers also play apps like MyVegas Slots all year round. By the time they head to Vegas, they accumulated free dining, rooms and entertainment. In theory.

Some say the apps glitch or crash too much. Others say the deals are less and less free stuff and more mere discounts.

So, as with the credit card rewards, ask first and when possible, plan ahead because the best offers ‘sell’ out.

General, pre-pandemic transportation tips for those who do not drive to Vegas:

  • Attending a convention? Monorail. But wear your walking shoes. It looks like a short hike, but your feet will eventually tell you that huge complex, like a distant mountain, is much larger and therefore farther away than it looked.
  • Walking? Everything is, like that distant mountain, larger and farther away than it looks. Add desert heat to the equation, and you will realize you didn’t need to pack those not so comfy shoes because they are “so cute.”
  • On a relaxed time schedule but tight budget, and want to move back and forth from Fremont area downtown to the Strip? One of our friends saved a lot with a bus pass — when he had time.
  • If you are new to the new way of cabbing, sometimes you will find first rides heavily discounted on Uber or Lyft. Also doesn’t hurt to ask drivers if they have any referrer links to a code.
  • Rent a car but prepare for the discount rental company to attempt to upsell or bait and switch you at the airport.

Some sweet offers exist to tempt locals, so befriend a resident or become one

House Seats remind us of the movie line “If I tell you I have to kill you.” So if you don’t see us after this post…

Shhh. House Seats offers residents amazing opportunities to check out shows free. This seat filling service exists to keep the vibe going, and in some instances, to ensure a packed house for TV tapings.

Much to our delight, in 2019 we landed tickets to Las Vegas Lights.

AJ and Bill selfie from several rows up overlooking the soccer field
The Lights play through summer at Cashman Field. Like other minor league events, bring the family for fun side activities, good eats and craft brews.

More of our Favorite 2019 HouseSeats shows

“The Las Vegas Lights love letter Ls, and lucky LV Llamas lead the yells for rallies. Goallllllllll!”

Just don’t expect a premium headliner to pop up as available at a prime time on a weekend night. For those acts, you need a flexible schedule (think, Monday or Tuesday afternoons at 2 or 4). Also check the website for updates frequently to snag the best shows, FCFS, ASAP.

Also the venue expects house seaters will beef up revenues. Not a problem, because the money you didn’t spend on a ticket buys you some gaming and/or drinks and/or dining.

Listen to service industry workers

Some poker players assume that traveling professional poker dealers stay gratis in the casino hotels where they deal. Not the case. In fact, like your local diner waitress, poker dealers live on a slim minimum wage plus tips.

So if you want to find out where to save some cash or cut some corners in your casino travels, ask (and tip) a dealer.

Our dear BFF Jocelyn Lewis, a tax accountant who moonlights as a poker dealer.

Know your seasons and conferences

Certain times and dates make life better or worse:

For instance, you probably don’t want to call a ride service during a surge of the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), a music festival attended by at least a quarter million. (Unless you are at the EDC and have a good size group to split the inflated fare.)

New Year’s Eve, national rodeos, NASCAR, and the International Consumer Electronics Show all mean larger than usual crowds and possibly higher than usual prices as demand outstrips supply.

The World Series of Poker also has its cycles of crowded and not too crowded. With just about every poker room in town offering its own version of a series, the players version of heaven lasts almost seven weeks.

One might guess that the biggest draw of poker’s Main Event would overwhelm the RIO, and it does the first few days with its 6-8K or more entrants. But some find the Main Event 10K entry fee prohibitive.

In recent years, WSOP added other less expensive tourneys for the bust-outs and frugal to fill seats in the last week as the ME grinds on. Still, late into the Main Event, the RIO convention center starts looking as ghost townish as nearby Rhyolite.

If you want to avoid crowds, you could skip the weekends and sub-1K big starting stack events such as Colossus that jam pack not just the RIO but also cram lots of action into all sin city poker venues. On the other hand, sharks love more fish in the pool…

You know who you are.

Best season for desert color and local hiking?

Spring break

We mostly visit Vegas at the end of spring through mid July. Hot as hell on a mushroom cloud by the time we leave.

We spur-of-the-moment outdoor activities such as a day trip to Valley of Fire on any day not pushing the mercury as tall as the Stratosphere.

For all else external, we aim for early or late. Tote tons of water. Your cycle in the desert is drink pee drink pee drink pee. As tempting as all that casino ‘free’ alcohol seems, if you are over 40, probably should take it easy.

But it’s a DRY heat.

Said four out of five people before they suffered Vegas heat sickness
We think

YOUR PRIVACY in VEGAS HOTELS changed: a word of advice / warning

Since the mass shooting on the Strip, you are subject to searches while on casino property. We get it. It was horrible and lots of people died.

So now when you stay in a casino hotel, you waive your right to privacy.

If you opt out of maid service, hotel security knocks on your door but no matter what you say or do, they will enter and search. The casino hotels do a shit job of informing you about this — even as they greedily sell you on a wee comp in exchange for your daily maid service.

Thus they screw the maid’s earnings and set you up for violations of your rights.

And face it, when you check in and sign the tiny-print bullshit they put in front of you, you’re too tired and ready for your room to stand around reading.

If you are a woman alone in your room when agents come, you will probably feel threatened and intimidated. You may even wonder if these rent-a-cops are authentic, or if they are attempting a ploy to rape, pillage and steal.

Resistance is futile. You do, and these washed up high school football bench-warmers will kick you onto Flamingo Blvd faster than you can yell “baby needs new shoes” at the craps table.

TIPS to avoid confrontations with hotel security:

  • Don’t hole up in your room, especially if its discounted or comped. Hindsight being 20/20, security now seems to believe anyone not out playing lurks in the room planning a rampage.
  • Don’t ask the baggage handlers to help you bring up a week’s supply of byob, snacks, etc. The valet service probably will report you as suspicious.
  • Don’t order too much room service, or room service will rat on you.
  • Don’t waive your maid service for a lousy $10 dining credit.
  • If strangers knock claiming to be security, call the front desk or security immediately to confirm who is at your door.
Rude awakenings await some online poker players staying too long in the hotel room.

Or, get yourself an RV and avoid giving Caesar what Caesar thinks is due.

Some Vegas area items still not ticked off our bucket list

We heard good reviews and hope during future trips to

  • Visit the Atomic Testing Museum
  • Experience the Neon Museum
  • Spend a little more time checking out Container Park
  • Explore more trails of Death Valley, Mt Charleston and Red Rocks
  • Hike all the way to the St. Thomas ghost town of Lake Mead
  • Tour desert areas we missed so far

Please comment on this article with your favorites. What do you recommend for us? We will try almost anything once!

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