Las Vegas Tips and Tricks

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Everyone wants to be a winner in Las Vegas, whether that means making the right moves on the green felt tables, making the right turns around the city or making the right requests at the registration desk. The city is awash in possibility. Jackpots are won and lost but Las Vegas belongs to those who know how to play the game. Here are a few Las Vegas insider tips and tricks to keep the odds on your side.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #1. Try to arrive by noon. If your room is not ready (not a likely scenario in a city with more than 150,000 rooms) then put the bags in storage and start your vacation. A great deal of time in Las Vegas is wasted standing in lines. The less you have to do this, the more enjoyable your time there will be. The check-in crowds start forming around 2 pm and lines can bulk up quickly so try to check in before everyone else. Similarly, check-out lines stack up between 11 am and 1 pm. But do check out at the desk rather than via express check and get a receipt. Odd charges, such as that Pepsi that accidently jiggled when you opened the fridge, will easily end up on your bill without your knowledge.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #2. If you want to go to a buffet, go like a pro. Either go at an odd time – before 7 pm, for dinner, for instance; or use the "VIP" line. So how does one become a buffet VIP? Sign up in the casino at the player's club desk and start playing for points. Ask at sign up if there might be a promo incentive, such as a free buffet dinner or a line pass. Points start mounting the minute you play and the bar for rewards is set low enough to get plenty of return for your time.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #3. Stay and play for free. Casino players' clubs are a must if you plan on dropping more than a few coins when you are in Las Vegas. Depending on your rate of play, your game and your bank account, you could be back in Las Vegas in no time, all expenses paid, with a personal casino concierge attending to your every need.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #4. Dress for Vegas. That means very comfortable shoes and layers. It may be a hot desert out there in the summer, but in winter temperatures can fall to below freezing at night. In summer, the 115-degree heat in summer means over-cooled interiors, making for goose bump chills while watching shows of leggy bare-skinned babes ostrich hats, and colds when you leave town.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #5. Avoid the Strip. If you have to drive from point to point on the Las Vegas Strip, you might want to consider the parallel avenues instead: Koval Lane runs south from Tropicana to Spring Mountain on the east side of the Strip and both Industrial Road (also Dean Martin Drive in some parts) as well as I-15 track the Strip on the west side. From Thursday night to Sunday night, the Las Vegas Strip is a parking lot of partiers, lost visitors, tired families and working locals all trying to get somewhere fast. The Monorail is a good bet if you have time and good walking shoes; and local point to point monorails between CityCenter and Excalibur and between Mirage and TI can aid in the speediness of movement from place to place.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #6. Ask for an upgrade. Las Vegas is a luck town and good luck comes in all shapes and sizes. If you ask for things here, you just might get them. Ask the front desk clerk what might be available for you that night. If he hems and haws, ask if you can pay a little something for it. Urban legend tells tales of showing a $20 and landing in a beautiful suite. But without delving into the shadows sometimes a hefty upgrade is possible for a minimal rise in rate.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #7. Ask for the best. If you are on a winning streak at the black jack table and want to enhance the moment with an Absolut martini and a cigar – ask for it! Name brand free cocktails come with the territory, but you have to specify. And the aroma of a free cigar might easily be yours for the sweetness of a tip to the cocktail hostess.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #8. Go to shows. Las Vegas has a bunch of them – some in the afternoon where you can beat the heat and have a good time for the price of a couple of ice cream cones. Many are free as long as you buy a couple of drinks – most lounge shows operate in this manner. Other shows, variety shows you might find at the V-theater in the Miracle Mile shops, are surprisingly excellent as well inexpensive. For other shows, you can try you luck with half-price ticket kiosks. Tix4Tonight.com sells half-price seats at the Fashion Show Mall, Circus Circus, the Showcase Mall – some nine places around the Strip. Shows include some top draws – Jersey Boys, Cirque du Soleil, Terry Fator, Gordie Brown and others (check the website for what is available daily).

Las Vegas Insider Tips #9. Stay Downtown. If you want a suite, a private cabana, a lovely steak dinner with Champagne and a view, but do not want to bust the bank, head Downtown. It's possible to get an expansive suite in the Golden Nugget on weekends for the price of a standard room in a Strip resort. Similarly, a private cabana on a fun pool scene will cost only a third of what you might pay at a "cool" pool on the Strip. And a dinner at the legendary Binion's Steakhouse overlooking the city, or Hugo's Cellar dishes up the vintage Vegas of tuxes and secret tête-à-têtes without the requisite wad of C-notes you'll pay on the Strip.

Las Vegas Insider Tips #10. Go car-less. If you play Vegas right, you don't need a car at all. Most of the hotels that are not on the Strip, run regular shuttles back and forth (check first before you book – this service is different with each hotel). You can take the monorails and the Deuce bus to move around, walk the crowded sidewalks, or take a cab – even share it with a line buddy going your way. If you do drive, Las Vegas is the land of free parking. Whether you valet or self-park it is always free – everywhere. Tipping, however, is expected for just about everything in Vegas, but $1 or $2 is sufficient for the parking valet, per bag, that cocktail waitress, or per day at the hotel. The city runs on tips, but it also runs on volume. But if it is extra service you want, show some extra green.

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