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More Proof that Business is Sexy – 3 Ways to Ball-out in Vegas on the Cheap

Vegas Baby!
Of course we all know that Sin City is the mecca for people in search of drinking, drugs, dining and debauchery, but did you also know that its the world’s best place to swing your silver tongue and get something for nothing more than confidence?

My absence from the hallowed grounds that are the pages of stokedonbusiness has come largely as a result of a business trip down to the place where anything can happen and nothing leaves, especially in your wallet. Conferences, networking gatherings and research had me tied up for most of the time, effectively thwarting any opportunity I had to dabble in the world famous Vegas delights, but I still had to eat and sleep. Fortunately for me, eating and sleeping are two of my top four favorite things to do, and if you’ve been following this blog you know that another favrorite pasttime is negotiating (I’ll allow you to use your imagination on the unmentioned favorite activity).

I was in heaven! Vegas does an amazing job of surrounding its visitors with a treasure trove of sparkles, temptations and desires, all at premium prices. The unspoken theme there is that everone wants to look like a baller, therefore the ultimate faux-pas is to ever appear cheap. For example, I watched (for professional purposes only) as a group of girls in their early twenties accepted coupons from a sidewalk promo guy to The Bank nightclub. They were obviously sold and walked directly to the front door where they stashed the coupons and paid the full $20 price tag for cover. Simply flashing the coupons would have saved them a total of $70, but they would rather part with the cash than damage their collective image.

I can empathize with that feeling, no one wants to look out of place, especially not in a venue where the primary goal is to see and be seen. There are ways, however to wheel deals and actually benefit your public perception while relieving the strain on your bank account:

1. The old $20 bill trick
The first concept to understand is that Vegas hates taking money off the table, but has no problem with adding perks to close a deal, especially if it means something extra in that person’s pocket. Figure out what you want and identify the gatekeepers to that goal – there’s almost always a poorly paid employee somewhere along the line who depends on the kindness of tourists to pay his bills. That’s why the most classic of all wheel-methods still works beautifully.

For those of you who have never heard of it, here’s how it works: Arrive at the check-in counter with a folded up bill pressed neatly against your driver’s license in your pocket. Giver your name to the clerk and wait for him to ask for I.D. When he does, pass the card and hidden bill to him while casually asking “Are there any complimentary room upgrades available today?”. Rumor has it that the trick has become so well understood that clerks who can’t bump you up will apoligize and return your cash. I say that it’s a rumor because no one I’ve talked to has ever heard of it failing. In my case, I went from a standard room in a wing packed with retirees and a 4th floor window to the parking lot, to a deluxe room with a king sized bed and a gorgeous view of the strip – all for 5 nights and all for $20.

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2. Drink like a king for $5.10/hr
The majority of casino-floor bars are littered with Video Poker machines to entice patrons to do some gambling with their drinking, which is clearly a winning combination. Most places have a tiered comp system that allows bartenders to serve certain drinks to certain levels of players free of charge. In the case of Caesar’s Palace, regular $20 players are given standard beer, wine and house liquors. In order to justify the good stuff, the bartenders need to know that the “eye in the sky can see that you’re flashing some benjamins” as one server put it.

Given that, this wheel is as simple as it is easy. First, find a slot machine on the main floor. Any machine will do. Insert a $10 bill and cashout immediately. The machine will print a ticket that can be placed into another machine for credits, or cashed out at the cash cage. Place the ticket in your pocket and head to the bar. The ability to talk and get people on your side benefits every negotiation, and this one is no different. Upon arrival, engage the bartender in idle chatter about the recent game, the strip, My Little Pony, whatever gets him to come closer to you. While you’re talking, take out a minimum of 2 $100 bills and place them into the Video Poker machine in front of you, paying more attention to your conversation than to your money – the bartender will notice, whether you see it or not he’s trained to pay attention to that sort of thing. Now, order the most premium drink that you like and wait to be served. Before the bartender returns with your drink, cash out from your terminal and move to a nearby seat. Poket the $200 ticket that just printed and retrieve your $10 ticket from earlier on. Insert the $10 ticket and select the minimum amount to bet (typically $0.25). Start spinning the reels and mention your terrible luck as the bartender returns with your free drink.

Tipping is mandatory, and something that you can’t get away from in Vegas, especially if you want good service. Tip $1 every time that the bartender refills your drink, thanking him every time. This is where $4 of the $5.10/hr comes in. The other $1.10 is the expected loss rate that a Video Poker machine will take based per hours on 4 spins per minute and $0.25 bets. Played properly, Video Poker is one of the best games in Vegas for the player, and assuming that you order 4 $10 drinks per hour, can be very profitable.

3. Pay a little, get a lot at the world’s best restaurants
Some of the shadier casinos on the strip (O’Sheas, Bill’s, etc.) have ticket agents that sell last minute admissions to popular shows, tours and discounted meals at high-end restaurants. Simply buying a coupon and heading over to the restaurant will save you a ton of cash, but leave you looking like a chump when the bill comes. Instead, pick up one of these tickets, make reservations and head over to the restaurant at least 15 minutes before your table will be ready.

Ask to speak with the waiter who will be serving you and present him with your dilemma: you have these tickets that entitle you to a fixed menu at a discount, but would like to enjoy some of the finer items on the menu without letting the tickets go to waste. The waiter will likely propose that you hand over the tickets, order what you like and he simply knock 30-40% off your bill when the time comes. The benefit for him being that a larger gross bill will likely result in a larger tip and he can simply write the difference off as promo. If he doesn’t, slide a $10 bill between the tickets, hand them to him and propose 50%. He’ll likely counter with 30-40% aned you’re all set.

Instantly the $50 steak that you were dying to try becomes $30, and $90 bottles of wine become a more palatable $55. All of this, and when the bill comes you can proudly pay the much-reduced total and leave a healthy tip for the very helpful service staff.

For more Vegas tips, or to leave suggestions of your own, comment below.

It’s good to be back – check in again soon for more Stoked content and tips.