“You never wake up with a hangover in Vegas. It’s awesome,” my buddy, a Vegas veteran, proclaimed as we made our journey from the airport to the strip in our stretch limo. As I looked around at our ride, fully loaded with champagne, two 30 racks of beer and a 1.75 L of Grey Goose, I had a hard time believing that statement.
I was lucky enough to be invited to my future brother-in-law’s bachelor party, and even though I had become good friends with him and his friends, I couldn’t help but wonder what I (a jobless college student) was doing in Vegas with a bunch of young professionals with steady streams of income. My worst nightmare was a situation where I gamble at a table with them, lose right away and have to sit out and watch for hours because I blew my limited budget.
As anyone who loves to gamble will tell you, there is nothing worse than watching from the sidelines as other people gamble. It’s like sitting at dinner but not eating – it just sucks. To prevent this nightmare from becoming reality, I knew I’d have to be disciplined with my wagers. So of course five hours later I was going back to the ATM for the second time on the first night and was well past my daily budget. So much for discipline. Still, we learn through our mistakes, and that first night I learned my first of five valuable lessons on surviving Vegas on a college student’s budget.
1. Stay Away From The Tables As Best You Can (At First):
I love blackjack, but damn can you lose your money quick playing it. We were in Vegas Friday through Monday, so setting out with a loose budget of how much I could spend each day was essential. Unfortunately, blackjack, and other table games for that matter, are savvy veterans at taking people’s budgets and shoving them up their asses (proverbially of course). I was forced to slow down considerably my first night as a result of my over-exuberance at the tables, which left less money for my other planned expenditures in Vegas, which brings me to……
2. If You Want To Drink, You Might As Well Gamble:
Drinking in Vegas isn’t like drinking back home, so say goodbye to those $2 deals on domestics and hello to the $8 bottle of Bud Light. Of course, an easy way to bring a little bit of back home to Vegas is to simply gamble at the tables. Yes this may seem to go against my first rule, but hear me out. Playing at a table allows you to reap the benefits of the complementary drinks offered to the casino patrons.
If you just order drinks from the bar, it would cost you $40 (plus tips) to get five beers. Why not just put down $40 at the blackjack table, give yourself the chance to double your money (glass half-full I know), and get your drinks for the price of a small tip for the waitress?
You can basically drink as much as you want, as long as you don’t run out of money at the table. Pace yourself at the table, but while you’re there take advantage of every little thing the casino is willing to give you, like free drinks. Of course you can stay away from the tables and drink for free in other ways too, like…..
3. Sports Betting:
I’m a huge sports fan, and I went to Vegas with a big group of sports fans, so hitting up the sports book was high on my list of things to look forward to in Vegas. I look at betting on sports as being beneficial in a couple ways. First of all, sports can be boring to watch. I’m a big fan, but I’m not going to lie and say that watching some random baseball game in June is all that entertaining. Betting on a random baseball game in June, however, makes it entertaining. You’re invested in the result. It’s your World Series basically, with every run meaning more to you than it does even to the players on that team.
Secondly, betting on a game, and then staying to watch it (while cashing in your free drink coupons that come with placing bets of a certain amount, keeps you away from gambling at the tables. Every second you can spend away from the tables is more money you save that you can later gamble at the tables. Sports betting also led to my favorite moment of the weekend.
The Belmont Stakes, the final Triple Crown horse race, was happening on the Saturday we were there, so of course we all put some money down on it. We picked Union Rags, because in the hours leading up to the race we pretended we were horse experts and convinced ourselves he was the one (also, he was the favorite or something). As the race entered its final corner, our horse started to make a push. Just about everyone in our group, all with money on Union Rags, was out of our seats shouting words of encouragement at a horse 2,000 miles away.
Sure enough, our horse won at the very end by a nose, sending the whole group into a celebration as if we had just won a championship game. If it wasn’t for an old girlfriend of mine, that race would have been the most thrilling three minutes of my life. The Belmont Stakes wasn’t the only thing going on that weekend, which brings us to how you should….
4. Pick The Right Weekend:
We entered Vegas on what turned out to be the most jam-packed weekend of the summer. We booked all of our rooms at the MGM Grand casino way ahead of time, which turned out to be extremely smart because a couple weeks later a huge boxing match was announced at our hotel featuring Manny Pacquaio. Immediately, hotel room costs skyrocketed. Along with the fight and the previously mentioned Belmont Stakes, there was also the NBA finals, Stanley Cup, Euro 2012 and baseball going on- all events worth betting on. Also, the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), some huge electronic music festival, was in town, attracting thousands of ravers dressed in blindingly bright clothing looking to party.
It’s simple: if you’re going to go to Vegas, you might as well get your money’s worth and pick/get lucky with an exciting weekend. Of course with all these things to bet on, along with the ever present tables calling your name, you’re bound to go over your budget. No need to get down on yourself while still in the desert (there’s plenty of time for that on the reality check plane ride back home), just….
5. Remember That Going To Vegas Is An Experience Worth Paying For:
Sometimes I’d forget that going to Vegas was a vacation. Sure I lost money, but you expect to lose money on vacations. You pay a certain amount in exchange for having fun, that’s what vacations are supposed to be. If you’re the kind of person who thinks they’d have fun in Vegas (basically if you like to gamble, party or both), I would try not to judge your experience in Vegas by whether or not you won some money, because the odds are always against you. Rather, expect to lose money, as you would with any other vacation, and enjoy yourself along the way. That’s how I survived Vegas, sanity intact. And no, I never got a hangover in Vegas, and it was awesome.