Making the most of the ‘free’ drinks

What is your best advice for someone who doesn't have that much money, but wants to have the most of the free drinks in Vegas?


See the answer »

First off, understand that there's no such thing as a truly "free" drink in Las Vegas. The casinos provide drinks at no charge, true, but only to gamblers. If you're not playing, the complimentary-drink well is dry for you. So what you really want to know is how to maximize the flow of booze to you while minimizing your contribution to the casino. Here are three ways to help with that:

Choose the right game

You're looking for a game that strikes a balance between the slowness with which it can drain your wallet and the frequency it is visited by waitresses. For example, you could play for hours on $20 at the nickel slots, but you may never see a waitress. Roulette is a slow-paced game and a small budget can be made to last a long time, but drink service usually isn't as snappy as at the blackjack tables.

Give roulette a try, but if the drinks aren't coming fast enough, move over to blackjack or craps.

Know how to play smart

Unless luck is on your side you're going to lose money gambling, but your goal is to play in such a way as to minimize the house advantage so that your budget is drained as slowly as possible. By memorizing a few basic "how-to" methods you'll avoid making mistakes that needlessly cost you cash. Start by taking a look at our gambling section for the bare essentials of the most popular casino games.

Slow the pace

Make the game move slower for you by betting the minimum, sitting out the occasional hand and taking bathroom breaks from time to time. When you do that, either have a friend watch your chips or tell the dealer and ask if you can leave your seat for a minute. Craps is a fast-paced game, but you can actually play it very slowly. By making a minimum bet on the Pass Line, and no other wagers, you can play a long time. You almost certainly won't win anything playing like that, but you'll be able to keep your average cost per drink at a nice level.

35 responses to “Making the most of the ‘free’ drinks”

  1. Steve the Texan said:

    Yup, if you're gambling, the casino will make sure you have drinks on the house. And, just like always, the cocktail waitresses still pay more attention to the high-dollar tables than the budget slots.

  2. Chris said:

    we are headed to Vegas Oct 2013 and was wondering if they still have complimentary drinks for gamblers. We have not been there in a few years

  3. Steve the Texan said:


    The Strip itself is generally a very safe place (it's in Las Vegas' best interet to make sure that's the case). Make sure to use the basic precautions that a solo traveler should use anywhere when you're on the street, in your hotel or in a casino, bar or club and it's not likely you'll have any problems. Do be sure to stick to the main tourist areas, though, as things can get shady pretty quickly away from them.

  4. Julie said:

    Hi Im travelling alone on Nov to Las Vegas and staying at the MGM Grand. I am so excited about the trip but was wondering how safe it is for a woman to stay alone. I have been to Canada alone and had no issues and have always felt totally safe in the states, but a few friends are worrying me by asking why am I taking such a risk?

  5. Steve the Texan said:

    Dianne, those are a couple of big questions. I suggest first looking through our "Bargains," "Where to Stay," Days" and "Nights" sections for a few ideas. Information in there should help narrow down what you're looking for.

  6. Dianne said:

    hi, hubby and myself are planning on a trip in early October for 3 or 4 nights. What is the best hotel to stay at for the most reasonable price and what are the best sights to see. I think maybe the Grand Caynon and a show. Any other recommendations.

  7. Pablo Job said: here is a GREAT drinking game to play and learn...Pai Gow Poker. Try to find a $5.00 table, they are scarce on the strip but you can find them during the day. Even $10.00 a hand is slow enough. The dealer will even help you out, just make sure everyone has already set your hand...nice slow social game with a lot of pushes. Also..tip your waitress $5.00 the first time around if you are staying for awhile...goes A LONG way to good will and speed, and if you drink mixed drinks the glass magically gets bigger and the drinks get stronger!!! Another way to drink is to go to the sports book place a bet and make sure you get your drink tickets. Some just make you show that you made a bet and you can drink all day.

  8. Jen said:

    The Casino Royal has $1 beer and margaritas.. Just as much as if you tipped the waitresses anyway! Also for sure bring kids to Vegas if you are a parent who isn't going to be out all night drinking and gambling. My family went and we had a blast. There is alot more to do in Vegas then you may think. We rented a car and went all over. My kids had more fun there then Disneyland!!

  9. Karen said:

    there is a group of us coming to vegas in october for my friends wedding. we are staying at caesars palace, has any one stayed here before to tell me what is like? is there any recommendations of must do's while we are there? as i am my friends briadesmaid i want to make it speacial for her.

  10. Chinny said:

    We're looking at renting a suite out at the Signature, MGM. Is it in a good location? NOt really into gambling, but would love to see the sights and colours of Vegas. Oh, there might be a group of us...about 12 adults!
    Any other suggestions (apart from MGM?)

  11. Steve the Texan said:

    Our official position on bringing kids to Las Vegas is simple: Don't. Vegas revolves around the very-adult trinity of sex, money and booze. It's just not a great spot for a family vacation.

    That said, if you do bring the teens to town, the Stratosphere, Circus Circus and Excalibur tend to have more families than most other major hotels.

    Here's a link to another article that may be useful: What can a 19-year-old girl do?

  12. julieny34 said:

    planning r first trip to vegas and r bring 3 teens... I have heard mixed messages where to stay ?????

  13. Steve the Texan said:

    Maggi, do you perhaps mean the Luxor?

  14. Maggi said:

    Going to Vegas for the first time in Oct 2010 for my friends 60 birthday - 8 off us going and staying in the Lomax. Heard really mixed reports about it - also been told doesn't matter where your staying as your never in your Hotel but I do like my comforts.
    Any comments on the Lomax!!

  15. Joanne (Derry) NI said:

    Thankyou for your response Bob....

  16. geraldine leeson said:

    im am bringin me hubby back 2 vegas 4 his 40th this will be our 4th time der over d last 20yrs and my god it just keeps sogettin better,make sure u bring the most cofy shoes u have cos by 'll be waklin alot ,anyone i tell this 2 laughs untill dey go,grand canyon is 2 die 4 ,der's a show 2 everyone no matter wat u taste is ,d hellicopter ride at night is only fab,my way 2 decribe vegas is u'll be like a child in disneyland,value 4 money isn't d word ,

  17. Bob said:

    Ref (Joanne (Derry))
    We stayed at the MGM on our first visit when my wife, son and I went for my 50th. You will not regret your choice of hotel.
    Take good walking shoes!!. You will not be short of places to visit or things to do, 8 days was not long enough for us.


  18. margaret said:

    visiting Vegas again this year staying at The Mirage central to everything,great shopping.We have seen LOVE twice,donny and marie is another great show.Visit BIllsgambling Hall and see big Elvis great show.

  19. Joanne (Derry) NI said:

    I have surprised my husband for his 40th to go to Vegas in late Feb....My sis is also coming whats good for my sis and I to do(we like to party)while my husband is playing his long awaited poker tournaments.....we are staying @ MGM Grand is this a good choice or not???

  20. aaron said:

    Hello all;Ive been to vegas 12 times(since 04)stayed at a lot of casinos.Stratosphere, great value,top of strip need a rental car.Sahara ,same thing.Monte carlo should be rated a 3 star not even close to the 4 star its rated,gaming floor simular to a mortuary.Tropicana,Id maybe stay again if they gave it to me for free.I really like Texas Station(3 times),great value,staff,nice rooms,clean.Its off the strip (10-15 mins),but I always have a rental car.You should too,Cars are well priced,trust me you wont regret it,It keeps you off the strip,out of the casino(if you want)Drive through Red rock canyon,bass pro shops and other great casinos off the strip.I would never go without a car again!!!!!!Believe it or not,Terribles,is also a good place to stay (2 blocks off strip to the east)locals play here.If you stay downtown, do your research,there are some CRAPPY properties.Golden Nugget was nice.(gr8 pool)Anybody whos into guns has to go to the Gun Store .Think of a gun,they probably have it,and you can shoot it.Dont and mean Dont,let people on the street talk you into something(shows,grand canyon etc.)NOTHING in vegas is free (except the views)Get show tix or tours from a proper source (ask your casino rep)There is soooooooooooooooo much to do in vegas get out there and explore it.Going to REd rock dec 20-jan 2 Sure it will be great, cant wait.

  21. DAN said:

    going to be vegas in early Dec. this our first trip. we staying at the circus,circus. we don't gamble big stakes just slots. we are looking forward to looking at the strip and down town sights. any transit to give us a lift from one end to the other end of the vegas strip?

  22. Billie Hayes said:

    hey and my boyfriend are staying at The Venetian in March next year for his 30th....we love eating out every night when on holiday....any tips....i love chinese and he loves steak!!

  23. mary crawford said:

    Heather: Don't worry about staying at the Stratosphere, we have stayed there and loved it. Clean rooms, good fun atmosphere, didn't see any kids when we were there in September. We always hire a car so we drive to other casino's so cannot comment on the area.

  24. Ruth Mandato said:

    Hi,I am surpising my husband for his 50th Birthday and staying at the Hollywood Planet for 3nights. I also have tickets to the Price is Right. What other shows would you recommend?

  25. THERESA said:

    i am leaving for vegas on sat the 17th, staying at ballys for 7 days...we don't gamble but i am sure we will try. wondering if there is lots to do there for 7 days...

  26. Steve the Texan said:

    Natalie, if seeing Cher (or any other major shows, like Bette Midler) is a "must do" for your trip, I'd recommend buying tickets in advance. There's no drawback to early purchase and you'll start the trip sure you have seats.

    Here's a link for discount purchasing. Select "Concerts" from the dropdown menu of categories and you'll find Cher and several other good choices.

  27. Natalie said:

    We are coming to Vegas in November to see Cher. Is it better to buy tickets online or wait to get them when we arrive? If online, which site can I trust?

  28. Alan said:

    I am coming to Vegas in December on my own staying at the Imperial Palace anything or anywhere I should avoid

  29. jacqi said:

    hi, hubbie and myself are coming to vegas in december,my boys are great monster truck fans,can anyone tell me if there is anywhere i can buy monster jam merchandise from to bring bach home to them.?

  30. vicki said:

    hi, we are coming out i 2 weeks, staying at wynn/encore, want to do a grand canyo tour, but there are so many to choose from,whats your advice? dont want to be stuck on a coach? should we book in uk or there?

  31. Steve the Texan said:

    The Trump is a great place, but, in a Las Vegas rarity, there's not a casino that's part of the property. If you and your wife aren't particularly into the gaming, that might not be a problem at all and may be one of the reasons you're getting a good deal on the price.

  32. Ed said:

    Looking at staying at Trump with wife for a few days. We are not big gamblers, is this a good location? The price quoted is equal to a 3 star location.

  33. Robby said:

    The Strat is at the very end of the Strip and far from most of the other casinos and not in a very good area. For the money I stay at Ballys. Great location and not real expensive. Good luck

  34. Steve the Texan said:

    I like the Stratosphere for a sightseeing visit every so often -- the observation deck at night has a great view of the Vegas lights -- but I usually don't recommend staying there for most people. It's saddled with a bad location, stuck somewhere between the Strip and Downtown, but not walkable from either, and is one of the location favored by families. If you're taking the family that might not be an issue, but many visitors don't particularly enjoy a hotel with lots of children around.

  35. heather said:

    we are coming to Las Vegas in November and staying in the Stratosphere is it a good choice?

Post a comment

Your comment