You’ve been there. It’s 10:29pm and you arrived late to the party. Everyone is clearly blasted. Everyone is also clearly having a ball and you want to partake. You pour yourself a rum with a little coke. You chug it and repeat.
One hour later, you’re in hell. You’ve just played a little game called catch-up and you’re the big loser. Curled up in a little ball in your friends bedroom, all you can say before you throw up again is, “Bowl please”
Your one goal in Vegas is to avoid this situation.
I’m going to give myself an A- for the most recent Vegas trip. I got docked minor points for two discretions. First, I over-drank slightly on night one and, second, I didn’t drink much on the last day because of a stellar Girls Girls Girls experience.
Other than that, it was a perfectly executed Vegas drinking adventure. I stayed pleasantly buzzed for a good portion of the trip and, when called upon, I got seriously hammered, but never got sloppy enough to yarf.
Given this rather loosely defined definition of booze success in Vegas, let’s talk about your drinking strategy while in Sin City by first debunking one common myth.
“The Drinks Are Free”
No, they’re not. Nothing is free in Vegas. It’s an elaborate shell game that has you directly in its sites and the sooner you realize this, the better prepared you’ll be.
While gambling, there are waitresses who are offering you drinks, but you are paying for this privilege by gambling at whatever table/slot machine you happen to be pouring your money into. In fact, they’re using booze to make sure that when you’re down $650 at the craps table and have $120 sitting on the pass line that you’re going to wait that extra 3 minutes for that drink, during which time you’ll lose that money and dip for more.
Here are some ways to maximize your drink per dollar.
Go to a casino which has reasonably priced tables.
By reasonable, I mean the table game that you want to play is usually $5, but might be $10 at night. Most of the popular casinos on the strip do not fall into this category, but there are many other casinos on the strips that don’t have the marketing dollars to dent the zeitgeist of the United States, so they have this type of gambling.
Game selection is key to keeping that drink per dollar ratio down. By far, the best drinking game (and best all-around game) is Pai Gow poker. This is a single deck simple poker game where you’re playing two hands against the house. If both hands win, you win. If one wins, you push. If both lose, you lose. This means there are lots of pushes, which means you’re not actively losing money. They also shuffle the cards with every hand, which means a lot of dead time. All of this translates into much more time to acquire drinks while not losing money. Read my forthcoming Gambling column to see how other popular games stack up against Pai Gow.
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: My favorite strip casino that falls into this category is the Barbary Coast. Located across the street from Ballys, the Barbary has the looks of a dive bar, but in reality offers cheap gambling and a high booze factor. The gang sat at $5 Pai Gow tables for most of the weekend whereas across the street at Ballys the same gambling was $10 to $25.
NOTE TO STRIP CLUB ENTHUSIASTS: No, the drinks at strips aren’t free… or, at least, aren’t at the strip clubs I attend. Normal drinks will run you anywhere between $5 to $10. I believe fully nude clubs don’t even allow booze now.
Connect with the waitress.
This is hard. Vegas Waitresses are notoriously slow and, if reasonably good looking, probably hate men because, HELLO, they’re hit on by drunks for a living. If you make a connection with a waitress, you’re likely to see her more often and, if you’re lucky, she’ll even enhance your gambling experience. A simple way to start here is to tip the waitress; I usually tip a $1 a drink.
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: We hit the long ball on this category in the most recent trip. While the Barbary Coast waitresses aren’t all that much to look at, they are going to work for those tips. Our waitress quickly detecting that we were a bachelor party and recognized there was money to be made. She was bringing us refills when were only halfway through our current drinks and then took the extra step of bringing the boys a variety of shots. This gave us the pleasant illusion of “additional free booze”, but really meant “the big tippin’ stooges will stay longer”.
Suffice to say, we frequented the Barbary for most of the weekend.
Stick with a single alcohol.
Anyone who went to college figured this out long ago, but it’s important to remember because the goal is to stay drunk, but not to spin off into the Land of Vomit. The second you start mixing it up alcoholically, you’re asking for big trouble. This is doubly-important during the binge drinking at strip clubs when you’re buying drinks for strippers who want bizarre drinks like the infamous “Surfer on Acid”.
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: In a full day in Vegas, I have two phases of drinking. Morning Drinking and Drinking. Morning Drinking is usually Baileys Coffee. This is the perfect mix for the double buzz of booze and caffeine.
At some point, I switch over to mixed drinks. This usually occurs before noon. In the case of this trip, the alcohol of choice was vodka. I averaged 8 screwdrivers before dinner. I averaged the same amount of Vodka / Redbulls at the strip club.
Jump start with homemade drinks.
I don’t recommend this, but it’s a decent way to save some cabbage. You can buy a significant amount of booze + soda for $20 at any of the liquor stores on the strip and if you want to jump start your drinking, it’s a good way to go.
The reason I don’t recommend this is because casino drinks are not that strong.
Huh, Rands, are you high? I want strong drinks. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOZE.
No, you don’t. Strong drinks get you to one place and that is Yarf Town. Think about this for a second. Casinos want you to spend money and they know that if they offer you booze, you’re likely to spend more money, but if you drink too much, you’re useless to them because of chunk blowage.
Translation: Someone… somewhere has done a lot of work to figure out what the cost effective drink is to serve at a casino. It’s not what you’re buying at a bar, it’s about half, but it’s strong enough to get you drunk, keep you drunk, but keep you gambling.
Don’t think you’re smarter than casino because you’re not. They’ve been doing this for fifty years and you’re some punk twenty four year old who is still figuring girls out. Let them pour the drinks.
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: Sports Bars are usually a great spot to land the fictional free drink. Normally, all you need is a valid betting slip on your table in order to qualify for the label of “gambler”. Unfortunately for our bachelor party, the MGM Grand Sports Book wasn’t having any of this. Rather than paying $5 for drinks we could have for free, Mittelfinger decided to buy booze, mixers, and cups. As we were sitting in the Sports Book for many hours, this booze augmentation worked out nicely.
Binge drink responsibly.
Binge drinking is an essential component of any Vegas trip. I usually reserve my big night for the strip clubs because that is when I want my reality altered as much as humanly possible.
Yes, binge drinking involves walking a pretty thin line. How do you drink heavily, yet stay away from the technicolor yawn? Sticking with a single alcohol helps, but, even then, you’re going to blow it because your buddy has an open tab and the stripper on your lap wants to do kamikaze shots? SURE THING TOOTS AND YOU REALLY LOVE ME RIGHT?
My best advice here is to avoid shots. Shots are a sure fire ticket to hell. Remember, Vegas is a marathon, not a sprint.
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: We saved our main binge drinking for our night at Olympic Gardens (“OGs”). We all had a large dinner beforehand, which is a great way to soak up the booze. OGs gives you two drinks with the $20 cover charge. These drinks were quickly gobbled up by two screwdrivers. Note: strip club drinks are no better than casino drinks even though you’re paying for them.
I stuck with screwdrivers for the next two drinks while the OG Rookies got dances from the first girls who sat in their laps. After that, I opened a tab for the table and kicked the evening into high gear with a round of kamikazes for the group. Shots are a great way to introduce your body to binge drinking because, remember, you’ve been drinking all day and, face it, it’s time to take it to another level. YES I SAID SHOTS WERE A BAD IDEA, BUT I ALSO SAID IT’S A THIN LINE. FUCKER.
After two more rounds of shots, I shifted it down a gear to the Vodka/Redbull for the rest of evening. This late night drink is a key ingredient to staying focused whilst being unable to walk. I highly recommend it.
I’d call this successful binge drinking because I was seriously lit while never experiencing that “oh shit” sensation of impending barfdom.
PUKE ON YOUR SHOES NOTE #2: I’ve never had the pleasure of throwing up in Vegas, but, trust me most establishments are well prepared for the event. If you feel an impending spew, the best advice I can offer is: get to the bathroom, aim for the toilet, and pray for the best. If you’re witless then it’s not your problem now, is it?
Drinking in Vegas is essential because you must reinforce the reality distortion field that surrounds it. You must believe that it is ok to blow $1000 at a card game which is designed to fleece you. You must learn to ignore that constant hangover that you’ve developed by Day #2. And, finally, you must believe that the objectification of women is WELL SHIT A GREAT IDEA AND BY GOLLY SHE’S A STRIPPER WITH A HEART OF GOLD.
Booze makes you dumb and dumb people have more fun in Vegas.
Next up: How To Get Fleeced and Have Fun…