Cheap Thrills in Vegas
Last Update: July 2021
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
$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
$1 massage chair at Flamingo, Linq, and Stratosphere
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.
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.
Know of any other cheap thrills? Let me know!
Thrills should cost $6 or less, and be available
on the Strip or downtown.