Cheap Thrills in Vegas

Last Update:  February 2022

I have pages about free things to see & do in Vegas, as well as fun things that cost a bit of money.  This page is the middle ground—things that aren't completely free, but pretty cheap, especially compared to the value.  If there's anything you think I should add, please let me know!

Get smashed for cheap

Casino cocktail waitresses serve free booze to anyone as long as they're actually playing a game.  And the cheapest game in Vegas is the penny slots, which are almost everywhere.  Sure, you have to play 20 credits x 9 lines ($1.80/spin) in order to win the jackpot, but who says that has to be your goal?  Nothing's stopping you from playing a penny a spin...slowly.  One spin every 12 seconds works out to $3 an hour into the machine, and you'll probably win about $2 of that back, for a net loss of $1 an hour while you're drinking it up.  It really does work: in my test at Circus Circus I played just one penny per spin and the waitress showed up in seven minutes to take my order.  And in that seven minutes I was already ahead $1.50.  The catch is that the nicer casinos have replaced their older penny slots with new ones that have a minimum of 75¢ per spin or more.  So, this trick might not work at the Wynn, but there are no lack of other casinos to try.

You should tip the cocktail waitress (especially if you want her to keep the drinks coming), but the good news for cheapskates is that $1 every 1-2 drinks is actually sufficient.  (See my separate tipping guide.)  Just be sure to tip on your first drink (not the second), so the waitress knows you're a tipper.

There are rumors that free drinks will disappear for low-rollers, but I'm skeptical that will really happen.

$6 tour of the Strip

Get on the Deuce (the double-decker bus), sit on the top near the front, and get a great view of the entire Strip.  This used to be only $2 until they hiked the rates, but $6 still isn't bad.  (And if you pay $8, you can get a 24-hour bus pass.)

If you got a day pass, then to stay on the strip, when going northbound, get off at the Stratosphere (the last casino on the north end of the strip), cross the street, and then get on the southbound bus.  Without a day pass, the bus will go to the Fremont Street Experience and then the downtown transfer center, where they'll probably make you get off and wait for five minutes before the bus heads South towards the Strip again, but you won't have to pay to re-board.

Going southbound, with a day pass, get off at the Mandalay Bay (the last casino on the south end of the strip), then cross the street to pick up the northbound bus.  Without  a day pass, you'll go to the South Strip Transfer Terminal (SSTT) where they'll probably make you get off and wait for five minutes before the bus heads North towards the Strip again, but you won't have to pay to re-board.

$1 massage chair at Flamingo, Linq, and Strat

I wasn't expecting much when I saw these bill-operated chairs, but I figured I could blow a dollar to check it out.  Boy was I surprised.  I expected the chair to just vibrate, but instead it actually kneads your back and head -- and feels kind of creepily like human hands.  It's not just a static program, either, it keeps changing.  A mere dollar gets you three minutes in the chair.  Absolutely worth it, if just for the experience.  On a price-to-entertainment ratio, this is one of the best cheap thrills in Vegas.  At the Flamingo and Imperial Palace the chairs are just outside the buffets, and at the Stratosphere they're in the mall.

Street performers

I don't know what took them so long, but circa 2010 street performers started populating Vegas, mostly the South Strip between Tropicana and Flamingo, but also Fremont Street downtown at night.  The most common are the folks in costume, who hope you'll take your picture with them for a $1 to $2 tip.  As I write this we've got the Mad Hatter, Captain Jack, Hello Kitty, Woody & Buzz Lightyear (from Toy Story), Elmo, Sexy Cops, Sponge Bob, Spiderman, Pikachu, a fat guy in women's lingerie, a Transformer, and more. 

There are also musicians and magicians, and again $1-2 is the standard tip.  The beggars are usually anything but amusing, but sometimes they'll come up with a good sign which is worth a dollar to me to get a picture of.  Yesterday I got one which said, "Ninjas killed my father.  Need $ for kung-fu lessons."  Of course I had to break it to him that ninjas are Japanese and Kung-Fu is Chinese.  Still, A+ for creativity.

Many of the performers don't actually live here, they just come in to do a little work and then go back home.  Others do live here, but don't do their gig for very long.  So what I'm getting at is that you never know who you're gonna see—it's a constantly changing cast of characters…literally.

One spin on Megabucks

Megabucks is the slot machine with the largest jackpot in the world, with a minimum win of $10 million.  Each Megabucks machine is linked to every other Megabucks machine in the whole state, and every bet on any machine increases the jackpot amount.  It's kind of like buying a lottery ticket.  One play costs $3, and the jackpot odds are 1 in 50 million.

Megabucks is pretty stingy, so you wouldn't want to play for very long, which is why I suggest one spin.

Try to turn $5 into $1 million

If you bet $5 on Baccarat, let your winnings ride, and win 18 times in a row, you'll win a million dollars.  Yeah, the odds are tough, but the odds are way better than winning a million any other way.  See more in my article on how to win a million dollars.

Know of any other cheap thrills?  Let me know!

Thrills should cost $6 or less, and be available on the Strip or downtown.

Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

You can play Bovada's games (below) right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's the main reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising space on my site.  (When you see the registration box, you can cancel it and proceed to the game without registering.)

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