Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our Top 15 Las Vegas Values

It's assumed that most Vegas visitors have their own list of cost or time saving factors that they personally enjoy and it should be. Here's ours.. (and we reserve the right to change these as our experiences and Vegas itself continues to evolve.)

In our experience, you can't beat this airline for average lowest fares to Vegas. Sign up for their e-mail and "Ding" services for online special offers. ( link)

Even though presently car rental rates are trending upwards (perhaps partially due to reduced fuel prices) , we still feel that car rental provides for greater flexibility and freedom while in Sin City. With a modicum of research time and effort, it's possible to
find a decent deal in spite of the exorbitant taxes and fees associated with on-airport rentals (it can represent as much as 30 -
50% of overall rental costs). There are some off-airport sites that can potentially offer reduced daily rates but renters have to consider the added headaches of some of these options ; additionally, some off-airport rates ( eg strip motel site rentals) are actually higher than what can be obtained at the McCarran airport facility. When comparing car rental costs vs fees for taxis and shuttles, most times you'll find that you'll be ahead with the car , particularly if you consider the value and freedom to make spontaneous dashes somewhere when you want.

This is still a bargain at $6.95 (recently increased from $4.95). It's not on the menu..just request it. Ellis Island is located on
Koval Lane which parallels the strip a few blocks to the east.

Still just 99 cents for player's club members ( $1.99 for nonmembers) . My wife considers this a must I tag along (worth it).

There's bunches of available free coupons and a few excellent purchasable bulk coupon sources for use in Vegas (refer to
Jan. 11, 2009 post here). These collectively can make a huge difference in your Vegas savings quest with a little invested
time and effort . We always purchase at least two bulk coupon sets from both the Las Vegas Advisor (now the Members Rewards Book, formerly Pocketbook Of Values) and the American Casino Guide . Two orders of each of these sources saves / produces about 4 -6 times their cost on average for us.

If you literally "play your cards right" (or play high-payback slots / VP properly and with sound money management) , comp accrual can add very real dollars to your Vegas budget. I play $5 - $25 minimum blackjack (only those with good rule sets!)
and both the wife and I play high-payback slots / VP at 40 cents - $2.00 per spin denominations. We haven't paid for a room in Vegas for more than 2 years (8 trips lasting 4 - 9 days each ). There are ways to work the system (refer to articles
regarding gambling comps and some Las Vegas casinos offering recent player favorable blackjack rule sets
for 6 deck shoe and 2 deck pitch games with 3 : 2 natural payoffs.

These obviously vary in price, service, culinary variety, and quality . We try to hit the upper end buffets (eg Bellagio's) at a shift / meal type changeover ; ie we buy in toward the end of the lunch buffet price at 30 -45 minutes before they switch to the
dinner offerings and sample both which results in a cost -savings of about 16 bucks. You have to identify the buffet locales
that do not close between shifts (some do ; refer to info regarding Vegas buffets that stay open between meal type changeovers) . We also load up at some of the cheaper buffets such as Terrible's
(mediocre quality) and Orleans (very good) and also utilize many 2 for 1 buffet coupons to save bucks at several off-strip
locales. We seldom experience more than one buffet a day while in Vegas but we take full advantage of it . If you load up properly (and actually survive it) , the calorie intake can sustain you for most of the day.

Hands down, this club has provided us with the best overall comp rewards (mostly reflected in free room offers). Harrah's TR
club hasn't come close and we've given them ample play and opportunity. Additionally , there are generally better blackjack
games (player-favorable rule sets at $25 minimums) at MGM properties vs Harrah's. ( link )

**POST UPDATE 2/1/09 : I have to give Harrah's Total Rewards player's program some credit / kudos for the recent onslaught
of comp offers for us personally. It's completely unprecedented and great..I give them their due. See above post dated today
entitled "Harrah's Total Rewards 'Hot Deals ' Tip ". And then check their website yourself. :)

Particularly now (due to economic situation) , the value of this effort can't be overemphasized. Classic no-brainer value here.

We've always located discount tickets for this show (eg @ Goldstar , Tix4Tonight ,etc.) and found it to be comparatively worth the full price ticket. These guys have the Beatle's vocals, music, and mannerisms nailed ; it's a good show for fans of their
music ..or not.

This funbook has had a good relative reputation in Vegas for years. There's some great gambling and dining goodies here.
You can pick it up for free at the Stratosphere player's club desk .

Bellagio's fountains, Mirage's Volcano, Luxor's pyramid beam, the visual of several converged casinos at the corner of
Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Boulevard (New York New York, MGM Grand, Excalibur, etc) , The Eiffel Tower at Paris, and the melded, skewed, and occasionally drunken, entertaining behavior of humans and a few monkeys along this iconic locale.

The choices are truly endless. There's value in this fact as long as your cash and ability to remain standing hold out.

Take advantage of accumulating player's club points during 2 - 10X point multiplier days at many of the off-strip locales .
Refer to the Vegas Values Report at the American Casino Guide website for weekly updated casino promotion offers prior to your trip.

This factor pays off multiplicatively at times. Car rental rates, airfare, room offer Vegas they change often. Visitors can accomplish this without turning it into a PhD level academic research event. If you enjoy Vegas, you'll enjoy spending time
planning / updating your cost-savings efforts at trip preparation ; it can provide a means to placate your daily routines until you can get there in person. *quivers*


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Renting A Car In Vegas : Part I - Reasons and General Planning

We always rent a car for transportation while in Las Vegas. Our personal key reasons are ..

- Flexibility and freedom in navigating the town ; having a rental car at your disposal can enhance time efficiency and can accommodate those last minute , spontaneous (and kinda fun) decisions to sachet wherever desired at your pace ( depending on traffic volume, of course). We visit many off-strip locales for coupon redemption.

- Aversion to walking long distances ; We like the strip but don't care to hoof up and down it on foot anymore . There's considerable walking already involved in navigating within the casino-hotel we're staying at
to access the casino, the buffet or other dining venues, and to and from the hotel room itself. Of course all undesirable elements associated with walking are amplified when temperatures in Vegas are elevated ( eg mid - April through September).

- Limits line standing for alternate public transportation ; (eg CAT , Deuce,trams etc.). We accept that some standing in line for assorted Vegas things is unavoidable but it costs time.

- Comparatively inexpensive vs taxis ,etc when considering flexibility and convenience factors. There are tons of car rental companies in Las Vegas which makes for a competitive marketplace and reasonable rates when compared to other metro areas.

It's necessary to reemphasize some time and effort for Las vegas trip planning to attain lower costs and that includes the best car rental deals should that be your choice for local transportation. You have to shop around a multitude of online sites (car rental companies, aggregator / major booking engines , airline travel partner sites , coupon / promotion code sites, Vegas hotel car rental rate promos, ad infinitum) and then recheck for rate reductions with some degree of regularity before the trip. Car rental rates fluctuate somewhat dramatically at times for unknown reasons (other than laws of supply and demand) .

In Part II of this series, we'll describe on and off airport rental options, some key online sites for car rental booking and research, and discuss some sometimes subtle, hidden costs of car rental in Las Vegas ( can you say "Reimbursement of Registration and License Fee" and "Consumer Facility Charge" without slapping yourself or kicking the cat ?), and some
general assorted tips.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ten Common Mistakes Of Vegas Visitors (some costly)

I've personally made some of the following Vegas visitor errors. You too ? :

- Underestimating the scale / size of hotel-casinos on the strip : I once rounded the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard in front of MGM Grand on foot with my significant other. This was our initial trip to Las Vegas and we were in awe of the kitschy visual spectacle Vegas is famous for . As we walked north in front of MGM, I spotted Caesar's Palace which appeared to be on the not-so-distant architectural horizon. Heh. It was a long damned ways to Caesar's, to make a long story short. The sheer size of the monstrous concrete monoliths we call casino-hotels can often make us error-prone in judging distance. Needless to say, on every subsequent trip we have rented a car.

- Staying too long at a blackjack table : Don't overstay a single gambling table or
slot / VP machine in an attempt to recoup losses ; change venues , hit a buffet or show (these other options are most always cheaper).

- Not signing up for or not using player's club cards / memberships : Big no-brainer if you gamble at all.

- Driving like an inebriated idiot on Vegas roads : Most of us have.

- Not using alternate access routes to the hotel - casinos : refer to blog post here entitled "Las Vegas Parking Garage Tips" .

- Gambling at games that have an insurmountable house edge : Can you say keno?
Now I've upset all those grandmothers at the keno pits. Sorry..

- Poor or inadequate planning of Vegas trips : That said, it's fun to leave a little
time slot for some unplanned , spontaneous activities as well (see next entry) .

- Overplanning Vegas trips : You'll wear yourself and your whole crew out if you plan every last detail .

- Not bringing comfortable walking shoes : Even if you rent a car, just navigating within a single casino seems like a Trail of Tears at times . Ever roam the several miles around/ within MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay ?

- Failing to utilize valet parking services at the hotel on arrival day : This applies more appropriately for those locales which have parking garages which are a county away from the hotel check-in desk. It's a hike at some of these (eg MGM Grand) even WITHOUT bags. Consider valet services on any day you're toting luggage ; the minimal cost is worth avoiding dehydration , leg exhaustion , family fist fights, or divorce.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Major Vegas Changes in 2008

Las Vegas began to morph back into a bargain destination city in the last quarter of 2008 (and this trend is ongoing indefinitely
in 2009) . The severity and depth of the economic downturn prompted many of the gaming properties to send out enticing
offers to encourage patronage in late 2008 and into this year . The depressed economy ranks as the most notable and felt
change for Vegas and it's visitors in 2008. Other notable changes follow.

- Massive and extensive delays in assorted corporate property expansion / construction projects due to..well..less cash.

- Criss Angel's "Believe" Cirque show debuted at Luxor ; I haven't seen it but most reviews are less than sterling.

- Other new / opening show venues included Bette Midler and Cher at Caesar's, Donny and Marie at Flamingo, Jersey Boys at
Palazzo, and Terry Fator (a ventriloquist) at Mirage; long-time Vegas performer Danny Gans announced he was moving to the
Encore (buddy Steve Wynn's new spectacle) from the long-standing Mirage venue.

- New hotel - casinos that opened in 2008 include Palazzo, Encore, Palms Place, Trump International, Alliante Station , and
the Eastside Cannery.

- The old Frontier hotel was imploded in November.

- The Monte Carlo Hotel caught fire and was closed for two weeks .

- Newly opened restaurants include AGO, Sinatra's , Restaurant Charlie, Carnevino by Mario Batali, Table 10 by Emeril, Botero
Steak, and Simon.

- Shows and attractions that closed were the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton (now scheduled to reopen at the downtown
Neonopolis site ), Spamalot, and the Departure of Trent Carlini as a headlining Elvis impersonator at the Sahara.

- Pool clubs became hot commodities in 2008 ; there was a hefty increase in the adults-only pool venues where patrons lounged and swam ..well..naked. I'm attempting to schedule some on - site analysis of these during one of my seasonally appropriate trips in 2009 if I can find the means to distract the wife long enough.

- New and improved pools opened at Flamingo, Palms, and MGM Grand.

- Celebrity hair stylist salons increased significantly in 2008 ; I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Las Vegas Strip Casino-Hotel Parking Garage Tips

Access to and navigation of Vegas strip casino-hotel parking garages can at times resemble swimming upstream depending on traffic volume , security levels, and varying driver patience. Individual hotel garages have varying capacities, distances to casino-hotel entrances, access from surrounding roadways, and ease of navigation once inside them.

Some people enjoy driving down Las Vegas Blvd. (the main "strip" road) to access their intended hotel. All of them are accessible from this main route and most are reasonably well-marked with "self-parking" signs for direction. During high traffic volume periods, it can be quite time-consuming to drive down Las Vegas Blvd. to access hotels and..anything else. During crowded traffic conditions, this road is analogous to the world's longest parking lot. First-time or limited experience Vegas drivers should have an easily readable strip map and an approach plan worked out prior to diving into the traffic mix. GPS systems are also an option ( personal or available on some rental cars).

There are some back-door / alternate routes available that can ease and speed up access to the garages ; busy weekends sometimes even clog these roads with drivers, most of whom have frustrating adrenaline and patience levels. There are some
roads that roughly parallel Las Vegas Blvd on both the east ( Paradise, Koval, and Audrie) and west ( Frank Sinatra and Industrial aka Dean Martin roads) and these optional thoroughfares can at times provide for speedier and more efficient access. The following offers a brief description of parking garage access routes for the strip hotels with a few comments.

BELLAGIO - Flamingo Rd. (runs east and west and at times can be at a standstill itself) ; Las Vegas Blvd. ; Frank Sinatra Rd.
from the west side of the strip. Bellagio's garage is well marked and comparatively very easy to navigate once
drivers get there.

CAESAR'S PALACE - Frank Sinatra from the west side, turn on Jay Sarno Way or Empire Drive ; two entrances off Las Vegas

CASINO ROYALE - From east side of the strip, access their parking facility from Koval Lane by turning on Winnick or Ida
Avenues; this casino lies between Harrah's and the Venetian; Las Vegas Blvd access as well.

CIRCUS CIRCUS - Industrial / Dean Martin Rd from the west side of strip by turning on Circus Circus Drive ; Las Vegas Blvd

EXCALIBUR - From the west side , turn onto Excalibur Way from Frank Sinatra ; From the east side from Koval Lane which
transitions into Reno Avenue, cross Las Vegas Blvd at light ; Tropicana Road runs east to west just north of
Excalibur and you can access from it, if it's not swamped with traffic.

FLAMINGO - From east side of the strip, access from Koval Lane to Audrie (via Albert or Ida from Koval) ; Audrie is also
accessible from Flamingo Road (runs east and west) but it may be packed with traffic; Las Vegas Blvd.

HARRAH'S - Use Koval to Audrie routes (via Ida or Albert from Koval) ; Las Vegas Blvd.

HILTON - Located on Paradise Road (just east of the strip) and can be accessed here; Joe Brown Way runs north and south
behind (immediately west) this hotel

IMPERIAL PALACE - Use Koval to Audrie route from east side of strip (via Ida, Albert, or Winnick roads) ; Las Vegas Blvd

LUXOR - Use Frank Sinatra Rd from west side of strip and turn on Luxor Way ; From east side of strip, use Koval to Reno
route, cross Las Vegas Blvd. at light ; Las Vegas Blvd.

MANDALAY BAY - Two routes from west side , Frank Sinatra to Mandalay Bay Rd (east side of I-15) or Hacienda Road loop
from Industrial aka Dean Martin Road (west side of I-15); from east side of strip use Koval to Reno route or Koval
to Reno to Giles roads and cross Las Vegas Blvd at lights ; access from Las Vegas Blvd as well

MGM GRAND - Tropicana direct access (runs east and west adjacent to MGM on south side) ; access from Koval lane from east
side of strip to Audrie, lots of directional signs ; it's a marathon walk from the parking garage to the hotel ; we
always valet park here..ugh; no direct access from Las Vegas Blvd.

MIRAGE - From west side of strip use Industrial Road to Pershing Ave. or use Spring Mountain Road to Vegas Plaza Drive
(just north of the Mirage); Las Vegas Blvd access

MONTE CARLO - From west side of strip, turn onto Rue De Monte Carlo from Frank Sinatra ; Las Vegas Blvd access as well

NEW YORK , NEW YORK - From west side of strip, turn onto Rue De Monte Carlo (runs east and west between Monte Carlo
and New York, New York ) from Frank Sinatra and turn south , follow signs; access from Tropicana which runs
adjacent to and just south of hotel

PARIS - From east side of strip, use Koval to Audrie route and turn on Paris Drive ; Las Vegas Blvd access as well

PLANET HOLLYWOOD - Use Koval to Harmon and/or Audrie routes from east side of strip ; Las Vegas Blvd access

RIVIERA - From Paradise Road on east side of strip, turn west onto Riviera Blvd; Las Vegas Blvd access

SAHARA - From Paradise Road on east side of strip, direct access to garage; no access from Las Vegas Blvd.

STRATOSPHERE - Access from Las Vegas Blvd by turning west onto Baltimore Avenue ; it's well marked for self-parking

TI (TREASURE ISLAND) - From Spring Mountain Road to Vegas Plaza Drive (just north and west of TI); Las Vegas Blvd. access

TROPICANA - Access from Tropicana Road ( hotel is adjacent to and just south ) or from Las Vegas Blvd.

VENETIAN - Use Koval to Audrie routes (via Ida, Albert, or Winnick from Koval) on east side of strip ; Las Vegas Blvd. access

WYNN - Fasion show drive (west side of Las Vegas Blvd) , cross Las Vegas Blvd and take quick left to garage; can also access
from Sands Avenue which runs just south of hotel and extends to Koval and / or Paradise to the east of the strip;
Las Vegas Blvd access as well.

General Parking Garage Tips;
1. Plan ahead /' develop routes / use maps / take a pistol?
2. Be certain to WRITE DOWN the floor level and accessory indicators (eg 3 A, B, or C, etc.) as you leave the parked vehicle;
it's very easy to forget specifically where you parked when you return from the casino-hotel, partially because some of
these garages are monstrous in size; look over your shoulder at some visual landmarks such as the general direction
toward the elevators / stairs from your vehicle and even some of the other vehicles in the general vicinity of your parking
spot. Nowadays, almost all rental cars have key remotes that open the car and flash the lights from a distance and this can be a huge plus even if you did write down where the hell you parked.
3. Make certain all lights/ accessories are off inside the car..dead batteries suck .
4. Where's your keys? If you rent a car, request 2 keys and keep one in your pocket or your wife's purse (hopefully she won't
run off and leave you when she can't pry you away from the blackjack pits).
5. We suggest you park away from corner parking spaces so some overanxious gambler or inebriated grandmother doesn't
smack your ride with their vehicle as they're navigating the loops/ turns in these huge concrete caves.
6. We suggest that the ladies (chivalry is not dead ) do not park in these garages at night when traveling alone ; valet parking
is much safer plus you'll feel like a VIP..this approach is well worth a $2 tip vs a potential nightmare; be safe
7. Don't leave valuables in plain sight within the vehicle..use the trunk or toss something over them. Out of sight..out of mind.
8. Park the car well ; within those lines, etc.; might avoid a door scraping from adjacent parkers
9. "Self - Parking " signs are the signs to track for these parking monoliths
10. Watch the road/ traffic ; it's easy to become distracted when you're looking at / for directive signs, etc. and a lot of other
drivers are being distracted as well ; drive defensively.
11. It's intended that more efficient and safe parking options will ultimately result in savings of time, frustration, and a few
dollars when visiting Vegas.

Other generalities to consider include parking in a semi-centrally located garage that lends itself to relatively easy access to several casino-hotels from one parking spot. For example, parking at the Luxor garage on the south strip provides for tolerable access to Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, New York, New York, Tropicana, and MGM Grand due to presence of monorails
and / or walkways. At midstrip, consider parking at the Paris garage to access Bally's, Planet Hollywood, and Bellagio ; also
consider parking at Venetian to get to Harrah's, Mirage, TI, and Casino Royale.

If we stay in Vegas for several days, most of us exhaust ourselves due to endogenous adrenaline , too much alcohol consumption, constant activity, and / or lack of sleep. If you just simply can't stand another parking garage hike to and from
your vehicle, there's always valet parking. We highly recommend's not that expensive and almost always lends itself to
easier hotel - casino access.

A decent source of parking garage info (including off-strip hotels) on the web is at


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Las Vegas Coupon Sources

Coupons are available for Las Vegas gambling, dining (buffets , restaurants, fast food), shows, attractions, spa treatments, drinks, car rentals, nightclub cover charges, transportation..pick a legal activity in Vegas and you can likely find a coupon for it. As you'd expect, the best (defined as the most valuable) coupon sources require varying yet modest levels of investment. If you Google "Las Vegas Coupons", you'll be inundated with sources that may or may not provide you with a legitimate coupon source. Some of the results will direct you to sites that only offer hotel promo codes for room rates ; these can still be worthwhile or potentially valuable but there might not be one coupon offered on the entire site. Ohh, Eureka. Can you say "dam!" ? Some general tips about potential coupons and coupon sources are :

1. Make certain of exactly what you're getting ; inquire and ask.

2. Check expiration dates ; there's some internet sites that are still offering coupons that expired in 2005 (really)

3. Try and have the coupons in your hands earlier than you think you'll need them; this goes back to trip planning which we've
emphasized as one key to a fun , value-conscious Vegas trip ; order them at least 3-4 weeks before any intended trip and
follow up on your order with e-mails / phone calls just to make sure you get them as promised / needed.

4. Once you receive the coupons, organize them so you can access them easily while you're sprinting in the parking garage of
casino X in Vegas; we always have a ton of them and I've found a good way to efficiently organize them is to make a log
of the entire mass of coupons (by property and specific held coupons for gambling, dining, etc.; a "master " list, if you will ).
Subsequently, we place all the coupons for a particular property into a legal size envelope that's labeled for that property
and specifically list what those coupons are for right on the exterior envelope surface. This approach allows you to grab
a single envelope containing all the coupons and the specific coupon savings you're about to enjoy at that specific property.
It does require a little effort and time ; it will save you at least a few bucks.

5. If you have more than one coupon for the same specific use and from the same source, many of these indicate that you can
only use one coupon per person per year. I've had 6 identical matchplay coupons for blackjack from the same source that
I've used at the specified locale over a three to four day period; sometimes you can use up identical gambling coupons on
the same day if you wait until the next personnel shift change and be savvy enough to not try and redeem them at a gaming
table with the same dealer / pit crew. Common sense applies here.

6. Select your coupon sources / coupons for the activities you enjoy most (dining, gambling, attractions,etc.); bulk coupon
sources have varying numbers of these..there's that planning thing again.

7. You'll discover that very few coupons are available from the so-called "high - roller" properties or for upper end shows and
most coupons are offered from off-strip locales; coupons are a means for those casinos with less "kitsch" or demand to
attract patrons and thereby attempt to compete with the big dogs. The economic situation might skew this traditional
situation regarding coupons ; we'll see

8. If you're a player's club member or signed up on casino website e-mail lists (there's that factor again) you might receive
some coupons from those sources. Join..:)

9. You can order multiple copies of most if not all of the following coupon sources..we do routinely. You just have to redeem
them with a well-planned approach.

The following are sources for either free print or downloadable Las Vegas coupons (most common but certainly not all available sources) ; many of the free coupons from the following sources are available in most casino - hotel lobbies , rooms, and/or in taxis after you arrive in Vegas but there's an obvious planning / time efficiency plus in obtaining these before you travel. Note that you'll have to pay for a subscription to some of these sources ( annual or single -issues, etc.) before you can obtain their coupons (did I say "free" coupons? know..).

1. What's On Magazine ; likely the largest single source of printed free coupons. They have a page within their website that allows you to download assorted free coupons for use in Vegas. It's being updated as I write this and is not functional presently. You can subscribe to the magazine ( for a fee) and receive it through the US mail and collect the coupons before your trip which is an advantage for time -savings .

2. 24/7 Magazine ; lots of second tier show coupons and tour coupons plus
a plethora of advertisements and assorted guides for shows,buffets, gaming,etc. Publishers are the same bunch that publishes
Vegas Values below. You can get a free subscription to the Vegas Values coupon book through the 24/7 site.

3. Vegas Values ; this booklet is actually the true "coupon book" offered from 24/7 Magazine above. The link is a part of their website. You can request a free current copy of Vegas Values by sending an e-mail on the above subscription page. Good free coupon source.

4. Las Vegas Leisure Guide ; You can download some
discount coupons here ; as of this writing, they're updating / renewing their coupon page and there's a statement on the site
inviting us back in 1-2 weeks to download/ print their new coupons for 2009. Worth a return visit, likely.

5. Las Vegas Insider ; very limited listing of coupons presently so maybe they're updating / renewing their coupon page as well, though there's no reference to that. There is a link to the Casino Perks
coupon offering (listed below under "pay-for" coupons).

6.; decent downloadable/printable free coupon source ; particularly strong for mid and low-level show coupon discounts but skinny on gambling coupons. Check these out.

7. Las Vegas Funbook ; most if not all of the "free" coupons you can select and order from this site can be found in free sources once you arrive in Vegas. The kicker is that they charge 19.95 for shipping and handling to get them ahead of time, even though they're referred to as "free". Again, decide if you want to pay for a set of coupons by pre-ordering them or do the grunt work yourself once in Vegas. Be aware that this coupon site was last updated in April 2008; contact and check expiration dates!

8. Today In Las Vegas Magazine; printable free coupons..even one for $5 off a fully automatic machine gun could get your name in the local papers or find a seat at a blackjack table right quick with that little item. Ugh! There are some more common, usable coupons, though. Jesus...

9. Las Vegas Newspapers ; Las Vegas Review Journal and Las Vegas Sun; sometimes these local newspapers have free coupons or promotions ; you'll likely have to subscribe, though. Access the Friday "Neon" section at the Review Journal.

Las Vegas Coupon Sources for purchase ;:

1. Las Vegas Advisor; In our opinion, the best single source of bulk Vegas coupons because you can receive more than just coupons. You're required to sign up as a member of LVA and you receive
the 2009 Members Rewards Book (formerly the Pocketbook of Values) which has a grand collection of assorted coupons for
dining, gambling, shows, tours, drinks..on and on. Cost is $50 for full membership with which you receive a printed monthly
newsletter in the mail and online member access or you can pay $37 for an online membership and still receive the coupon book. There's a plethora of current info on this site which you will have access to with membership ; Vegas news, forums, polls, gaming and hotel - casino guides,just a massive Vegas info site, etc. If you purchase one source of coupons
for your trip, this is our recommendation due to all the added perks and coupon variety and quality. NOTE: Don't remove the coupons from the book! ; you have to tear them out at time of use in view of the personnel / staff where you plan to redeem them.

2. American Casino Guide by Steve Bourie ; if you gamble (in and outside Las Vegas), there's some good coupons from this source and there's more than gambling coupons here. This annually updated book has been around for several years and is a staple for us for Vegas trips. It has a casino game guide and sections on gambling in general. I recently found a huge purchase cost savings for this guide / coupon source at Discount Book for less than 8 dollars! can't pass this up! The guide is also available at the American Casino Guide website which also has nationwide gambling info and specifically a section called Vegas Values Report that lists regularly updated Vegas casino promotions and
discounts (the guide costs 12.95 here plus shipping). Great source. Within the guide there is an ID card that you can cut out
and use as proof of purchase when redeeming the'll need this so put it in a safe place. Note that some casino
personnel are unaware of this..don't allow them to tell you that you have to tear the coupon out of the book in their presence to redeem / use them; ask for a pit crew member or someone with authority that should know what the agreed upon policy is with this coupon source. Check the American Casino Guide website for coupon changes that sometimes take place during the year; especially this year due to economic conditions in Vegas (and everywhere else).

3. Casino Perks; there's some coupon book options here for separate
dining,show,attraction,gambling, or the deluxe version coupon booklets with all their available coupons (deluxe version booklet costs 49.95 plus shipping). It's an OK source but some of the coupons are standard Vegas coupons that you can obtain for free , plus there aren't many gambling coupons here. Your choice.

4. Las Vegas Entertainment Discount Book; for 16.95 you can order this somewhat offbeat coupon source ; it doesn't have very many strip coupons and no gambling coupons that I could see. Some attraction coupons might make it worthwhile for some or those who like to dine off-strip ; check coupon expiration

5. Casino Player Magazine Funbook* By subscribing to Casino Player Magazine, you'll receive a casino funbook (not restricted to Las Vegas) with several different types of coupons. The link provides a description of all the available Las Vegas coupons in the funbook; note that the site is just depicting the 2008
version of the funbook..again, make sure of what you're getting by e-mailing / phoning the source. This is a good source for
Las Vegas coupons..or has been for us in the past. A year's subscription is about $24. Worthwhile source.

* Updated info on Casino Player's Funbook : This source is NOT offered any longer ; they are going to offer some coupons at
the Casino Center site in the near future, apparently. Updated info as of 1/27/09.

6. e-bay coupons ; tons of Vegas coupons up for bid; some good, some mediocre, and some...? Check all sources and verify what you're potentially buying;
some of these are available for free from prementioned sources.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Recent Southwest Airlines Vegas Fare Value : 5 RT Tickets Cost Savings

You likely heard of the recent Southwest Airlines Vegas fare sale ; a 2-day only offering that's now obviously expired. I purchased 5 RT tickets to Vegas for my family with reservations in February ; total cost was approximately $600.00. The normal web-only (WANNA GET AWAY) fares would have normally cost $1150.00 to $1200.00. The sale was essentially a 50% off sale from our locale (El Paso, TX). Southwest management rides again! Their forte has always been "low fares" ; an additional current plus with Southwest is that there are no additional baggage fees for the first two pieces per person as long as they don't exceed weight limits per piece (50 pounds). This little perk is very atypical from the great majority of other available airlines as most charge for the first bag these days. Of course , it's possible some of you don't have access (or easy access) to Southwest at your home airport. Also, some flyers may not appreciate the no-frills,
simple, non-assigned seating approach that Southwest employs. Plus, there are some who have extensive frequent flyer miles
accumulated with other airlines and could care less about cheaper retail airfares. However, during our course of several years worth of Vegas flights, no other airline comes close to matching Southwest's cheaper overall fares from our local airport. Has anyone else ever wondered why Southwest Airlines has never (to my knowledge) filed for bankruptcy that is so common amongst it's competitors? I think it boils down to customer costs and satisfaction. Though Southwest doesn't claim to have a "hub" city, Las Vegas in effect has become one for them. Look to this airline for generally cheaper airfares from
most departure cities to Las Vegas.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Received 4 night Bellagio Comp Offer

As related in the past, my wife and I are low-mid level gamblers. We've received many room offers in the past, but just
yesterday we received an offer indicative of how the casinos are currently enticing patronage. Bellagio offered us 4 free
nights plus 75$ in slot play. For us, that's an unprecedented comp offer. I expect many of you are receiving some goodies
above and beyond your normal gambling levels. This new year has some bright spots. Enjoy..


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Mostly Useless (and approximate) Las Vegas Facts

1. Number of Las Vegas citizens   500,000
2. Number of Clark County residents   1,500,000
3. Year first casino licensed   1931
4. Number of slot machines in Vegas   200,000
5. Number of annual Vegas visitors   40,000,000 (and dropping)
6. Number of licensed gambling entities   1700
7. Hours per day average visitor gambles   4
8. Annual state gaming revenue   9 billion (and dropping)
9. Average gambling budget per trip   560  (and dropping)
10. Mean price per acre in valley   161,000.00
11. Price per acre on the Strip   11,000,000.00
12. Number of  hotel rooms   137,000 +
13. Number of pillowcases washed at MGM daily   15,000
14. Number of doors at MGM  18,000 
15. Annual no. toilet paper rolls used at Bally's   1 million
16. Lucky The Clown marquee sign at Circus Circus has
      1232 fluorescent bulbs, 14,498 incandescent bulbs, and
      3/4 mile of neon tubing light  (no wonder they're replacing
17. In good times, Excalibur goes through over 44,000 
      Cornish game hens, 15 thousand pounds of hamburger
      meat, and 4200 pounds of prime rib monthly
18. Caesar's Palace has used 2 million plus maraschino 
      cherries, 11 thousand ounces of caviar, 2 million ounces
      of tomato juice, and close to 600 thousand ounces of
      vodka yearly (bloody mary winner?)
19. Mandalay Bay has 5,300 palm trees and their wave pool
      has a capacity of 1,640,270 gallons of water
20. Average nightly room rate  119.00 (and dropping)
21. Average number of Vegas weddings per day   300+
22. Number of golf courses  37
23. Miles of neon tubing on the Strip and Downtown  15,000
24. State's nationwide rank in gold production  1st
25. Cost of Nevada marriage license   35.00
26. Average cost of filing for divorce  450.00
27. Average length of stay for visitors    3.7 days
28. Number of hosted conventions annually  3750
29. The electric bill to operate the Luxor pyramid beam is
      approximately 55.00 per hour.
30. Las Vegas has 17 of the world's 20 largest hotels   


Just a cautionary tip when in Vegas.. there are active
pickpockets all over town. I experienced this first-hand
and came within 10 seconds of losing my cash stash last July
while visiting one of those upper end joints on the strip.

I was gambling significantly at a video poker machine, unabashedly slipping C-notes in them. Somebody had been
observing my wagering behavior. I was happily winning at the time and my cautionary tendencies regarding my bankroll
money went south and out the window.

A lady approached me from behind as I played and was all aglow with my run of good luck. She initiated a conversation about nothing and anything . I was concentrating on proper VP strategy and responding to her comments with a lot of "yeah-yeahs". I was fortunate enough to get ahead on the machine again and I cashed out. I had a satchel (I normally never gamble under those conditions) with me that had assorted trip stuff in it. The satchel presence and the relatively high denomination coin-in amount collectively screamed " please rob me!" I placed my wallet in the satchel along with the machine cash-out tickets and proceeded to reconnect with my family and head to our room.

I had developed a sense of cautionary unease as I mulled over the contact with the effusively talkative woman at the VP machine. My senses told me that something about that encounter was skewed, although at the time I didn't know what it was and I wasn't bleeding profusely..yet. My group then proceeded to meander through a very crowded slot machine aisle and some other 6th, 7th, or 8th sense that vaguely detected an impersonal yet succinct encroachment into my personal space kicked in. Instinctively, I immediately dug into the satchel to locate my wallet and it was gone. I then immediately turned around and backtracked about ten feet (a matter of maybe 3 seconds, tops) as my endogenous adrenaline kicked in. I'm not sure that my hair wasn't on fire briefly.

I then spotted my wallet (and life) in a woman's hand who was playing a slot machine. I walked straight at her and demanded it post-haste in a tone that screamed seriousness. I immediately grabbed the wallet and called for security. The woman claimed she picked it up off the floor and so did the man (her accomplice) behind her, both vowing that they were planning to remit it to the security desk. My svelte ass they were.

This team of thieves including the woman who was all goony-googoo at the VP machine were pros. I have to claim part of the blame for the openly careless manner I had displayed with my money. They were held by security and the eye-in-the-sky tapes were to be reviewed.

The good thing is I didn't lose a cent because my peripheral senses kicked in immediately and they didn't have time to bury the evidence ( perhaps they weren't the best of pros?). Take heed folks..these people are everywhere in Vegas. Know where your cash is at all times; take precautions to protect it, don't flaunt it around carelessly as I did, and if you sense something is awry while gambling trust your instincts.

Distractions from one member of a team of thieves is a common MO. Store your gambling session monies in a front pants pocket or in one of those god-awful front-loaded fanny packs (pride be damned). The lesson I learned here after several years of Vegas gambling experiences turned out to be one of the most valuable for me personally.