I think everyone comes to Las Vegas with the dream of winning the big jackpot that can take care of life’s worries and then some. The wife and I joked about what we’d do with the money on our last plane ride there. I’m sure other couples do this too.
The truth of the matter is though that hitting a jackpot for millions or crushing the craps tables for thousands won’t happen to most of us. The money that it took to build those casinos and hotels had to come from somewhere, after all.
But don’t let that thought dampen your spirits. Even though you might not hit that life changing jackpot you can still win money in Vegas and leave a winner. The wife and I did it, and I can show you how.
7 Tips for Winning Money in Las Vegas
Here are 7 tips for coming out ahead in Las Vegas. Most I’ve used or seen firsthand.
1. Use coupon books for discounted dinners, shows and shopping.
You can find coupon books in hotels, help desks or stores. Inside will be offers for discounts for shopping, buy one get one free dinners and free shows.
I didn’t go myself, but I some of my family members did attend a free stand-up comedy show. The catch to the free show was that the free seats weren’t very good, but could be upgraded for a fee. Drinks were outrageously expensive too, most in the $10-$20+ range.
Keep in mind that most of these “free” options will have catches like this, but if you can look past that you can save nearly $50-$100 per head in tickets.
2. Play games of skill or games with low house edges.
Instead of playing slots or other games where the house edge is high, play a game that can actually be beaten such as poker, blackjack or sports betting.
My preference is poker. Instead of playing against the house you play against the other players. You don’t have to have a lot of skill, but just need to be good enough to beat the players at your table. As long as you can win enough to beat the rake you can walk away a winner.
Blackjack is a good option too, even though you play against the dealer (house). And it does have a slight house edge if you don’t know how to count cards well. That said, even applying basic blackjack strategy will reduce the edge to less than 1%. So even coming out breakeven or at a slight loss is coming out a winner in my book, considering the entertainment value.
I’ve hardly bet on sports, so I’m not qualified to talk about it. But I do know it’s possible to win consistently.
If you don’t like poker or blackjack, then at the very least you should try to sit at games where there is a low house edge, such as Pai Gow Poker. Even if you can’t beat the game, the edge is low enough that if you take advantage of comp points or free drinks you should be able to come out ahead.
3. Take advantage of free drinks.
All players who are actively playing, or at least look like they’re playing, will be offered free drinks. At least at the casinos I played at. This includes water, soda, beer and hard alcohol. If you were to buy these on your own they’d cost $3-$5 for non-alcoholic drinks and $7-$15-ish for alcoholic drinks.
Depending on the games that you play, the drinks you get for free can offset your losses. So drink up. Just don’t drink so much that you play worse, or can’t stop playing at all.
4. Get a rewards card.
A rewards card (also called a players, vip or comp card) keeps track of how much you spend. The more you spend, the more comps you will earn. Comps can be points (for multi-level programs or shopping) or accommodations such as buffets and hotel rooms.
For example, free buffets are common comps. Most buffets that we ate at are in the range of $20-$30 a head. If you stick to low edge games, you can receive more than you spend. Or at least cut your losses. Have a few free drinks while playing and you’ll most definitely come out ahead.
Free buffets are just the beginning though. You can receive preferred treatment, discounted or free limo/taxi rides, hotel rooms and shows. Shows can easily cost $65-$100 per person. Play enough to get those and you’ll definitely get your moneys worth.
5. Avoid slot machines.
Pretty straightforward. If you want to come out a winner in Vegas, it’d be in your best interest to avoid the slots (or any game with a high house edge). While most games have a house edge, slots have some of the highest. You’ll lose your money for sure, not to mention much faster compared to other casino games.
6. Practice on play money tables.
If you’re not familiar with the rules or strategies of the game you’d like to play, practice first on play money tables. Most games can be played with a deck of cards in the comfort of your own home, or you can find an online casino to play at for free. Study the rules so you’re not clueless when you step into the casino.
If you didn’t manage to practice before you left for Las Vegas, be sure to ask the dealers how to play the games. In my experience they’re friendly and happy to help, and many of them will share tips with you.
7. Walk away ahead.
It sounds cliché. But if you manage to win some money playing, especially at casino games with a high house edge, hit the cash out button and walk away a winner. This doesn’t change the fact that over time you’re expected to lose at these games, but if you only go to Vegas once, you’re a winner. If you’re not ready to leave yet you could start wagering less to make your money last longer. And in the meantime you can take advantage of more benefits such as free drinks, buffets and other comps.