My current trip to Vegas is for Papagarzio’s bachelor party. I’m lucky enough to be a part of the wedding party, but not TOO LUCKY, as I’m not the best man who has actual responsibility.
The date for the Vegas trip was selected many months ago to coincide with the Kentucky Derby which is only a minor plus for me, but Squarehead, also in the wedding party, loves to bet on the ponies and, as we’ll discover, sports books are excellent spots to acquire free booze at cut rate prices.
Fortunately for me, the bachelor party predefines a structure for the trip. You will hang with the guys. You will gamble. You will have a dinner somewhere. And, you will drool on strippers.
Your trip to Vegas may be a bachelor party or it may not. Regardless, you’ll need to consider the following things before you step on the plane:
In planning your trip to Vegas, the first question you should ask yourself is, “Who am I going with?” If this answer is, “No one” then you should stop reading right now. The Rands Vegas System designed for folks who want to hang with the groups of people who have a mutal interest in maximizing their Vegas fun… it’s the premiere place to hang out A “No one” answer probably means:
- You’re going to seriously gamble and expect to win
- You’re planning on getting some trim and don’t want anyone to know
- You’re a complete loser
The System is not going to teach you how to gamble. It’ll teach you what to gamble on. I’m not going to get you laid, but I’ll point you in the right direction. If you’re a complete loser, well, maybe the System will make you less of one. Keep reading.
As my trip is a bachelor party, I can pretty much guess what I’m going to be doing… it’s pretty much the same thing I do every time I’m there.
- Gambling (Drinking)
- Eating (Drinking)
- Strip Clubs (Drinking)
- Sleeping (Not Drinking)
I would argue that the person who is a frequent visitor of Vegas is pretty much doing the same thing. If you’ve never been, you’ll probably want to add a fifth bullet which is “See a show”, which is a typical rite of passage, but something that you’ll rapidly stop doing if you’re in Vegas more than once a year.
I’m not saying the shows aren’t amazing, I happen to be a large fan of Cirque du Soleil (oh yes, Blue Man Group), but you’re only going to see them once. They tend to be outrageously expensive and you’ll quickly find that Gambling + Strip Clubs + Good Friends will provide more than enough entertainment.
SPECIAL NOTE TO HOOVER DAM ENTHUSIASTS: If you’ve made your list of things to do and one of them is “See the Hoover Dam” or similar touristy event. DO NOT GO TO VEGAS. Vegas is about the strip… if you want to get out and see some nature, I highly recommend just about any place else. Getting to and from Natural Wonders is expensive and HELLO THE NATURAL WONDER IS VEGAS HELLO MCFLY ANYONE HOME?
It all comes down to one thing in Las Vegas. Money. If you don’t have extra, don’t go. Plain and simple. You will be encouraged to spend money in every single thing that you do and when you return you will be so acclimated that you’ll reach for your wallet to tip your girlfriend after your welcome home blowjob. Don’t. She’ll beat you severely.
In preparation for your trip, there are two types of expenses. Fixed and Variable. The fixed expenses are ones which you can predict before you set foot in the Bellagio. The variable expenses are the ones which can really screw you.
Here’s a simple checklist which will help estimating how much money you’ll need to budget.
Fixed expenses check list:
- Air fare
Variable expenses check list:
- Taxi / Transportation
- Girls Girls Girls
- Back-up cash
QUICK TIPS ON ESTIMATING FIXED EXPENSES
Flights: I really can’t comment on Air fare because it varies wildly depending on your home town, but I will point out that you should do everything possible to avoid major conventions. They just clog everything up. I’m also a fan of arriving and leaving at non-peak times as I detest crowds. Airport peak times: Friday (ALL DAY), Sunday (ALL DAY), Holidays, and major conventions. For example: for this trip I’m arriving late on a Thursday night and returning Monday early afternoon. This means that I’m avoiding the weekenders both coming in and leaving. Varl mentioned there was some convention starting on Monday, but I’ll be leaving which means plenty of Taxis returning to the airport. Bonus!
PUKE ON YOUR SHOES NOTE #1: If it’s Saturday morning, you’re out of money, hung over, cleaning vomit off your shoes, and your flight still isn’t until Monday, GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE NOW. The longer you will stay, the more miserable you will be. Don’t worry about your friend who fell in love with that stripper and plans on returning… HE’S STILL DRUNK. Call your airline, they’ll be happy to adjust your flight because no one is leaving Vegas on Saturday and you’re freeing up a seat for when people actually are leaving on Monday.
HOTEL: I’ve always been a fan of staying on the strip. There are definitely cheaper ways to find a place to sleep, but hotels on the strip are, well, on the strip. This means that you are reasonably close (sometimes walking distance) to other hotels and this can mean less expense because of fewer transportation costs (Remember: IT COSTS TO BREATHE IN VEGAS). A major disadvantage of strip hotels is that the gambling (see: GAMBLING) can be on the expensive side, but cheaper gambling is always a short walk away. These days, I tend to favor the Monte Carlo. It’s a strip hotel and it tends to sport reasonable prices year round. For this trip, we’ll be staying at the amazingly centrally located Ballys hotel which might be a littler pricier, but makes up for it in location — it’s right in the middle of everything.
SHOWS: As I mentioned, I don’t attend shows. If you must go to a show, the only ones worth it are Cirque and Blue Man Group. Both are infinitely more entertaining whilst enhanced. NO I DON’T KNOW SIGFRIED AND ROY ARE COMING BACK.
QUICK TIPS ON VARIABLE EXPENSES
You know what you want to do (roughly) and you’ve set-up your flight and your hotel. The good news is that you’ve got a place to sleep. The bad news is that you haven’t even begun to spend money. Welcome to the wonderful world of VARIABLE EXPENSES.
TRANSPORTATION: Here’s a typical rookie maneuver. You’re standing in the Excalibur (located at one end of the strip) when decide to venture to a new casino. You walk outside and look down the strip. From Excalibur, you can see New York, New York, the Tropicana, MGM… further down is Monte Carlo, Ballys, Caesar’s Palace… and all those casinos look delectably close.
Remember two things. First, you are in the middle of a desert. Two, these casinos are fucking huge. Unless you live in San Francisco or New York City, your brain is simply not used to judging how tremendously large these casinos are and when you see them on the strip, your brain erroneously tells you, “They’re big, so they must be close”.
Really, they aren’t.
A simple walk across the street from Excalibur to New York, New York can easily take you 15 minutes. YES, I SAID ACROSS THE STREET. A walk down to Ballys is somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour. Yes, you will be saving money because you will be walking, but it’s dull and it’s a desert.
A good rule of thumb is that if where you’re headed isn’t right next door, it’s probably more efficient to take a taxi. Plan on $5 a pop if you’re splitting an average ride with with friends. If you’ve got five more folks, I’d also recommend a limo. The price works out to be roughly the same, they don’t charge by the minute, and they’ll take you wherever you like (ie: liquor store, IN’n'OUT, etc). Limos are littered all over the airport. Don’t be shy; just got ask them what their rates are. You should probably be paying $5 – $10 a person and, if you like your driver, get his/her card and they’ll show up whenever you want to move the posse about.
I’ve never rented a car in Vegas. WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU RENT A CAR? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO — SAVE MONEY? GET TO THE HOOVER DAM? NOT LISTENING LA LA LA LA
GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS: We’ll talk extensively about Girls Girl Girls in a later column, but suffice to say, the unit of currency inside of a strip club is a twenty dollar bill and that doesn’t include cover charges, or the necessary four to six drinks you’ll need to really enjoy yourself. If you’re not a complete dweeb, there is no way you’re getting out of club for under $100.
GAMBLING: Like the strippers, we’ll talk much more about this later. For me, gambling is the number one expense in Vegas. There is no magic formula that I use to budget for gambling dollars, I simply look at how long I’ll be there and decide on how much I want to spend per day. This varies, based on economic conditions, anywhere from $100/day to $1000/day. YES, JUST FOR GAMBLING.
You’ll notice that I use the words like “spend” and “expense” when referring to gambling. You’re might still be thinking, “But Rands, I am going to be a big winner. I’ll only need $50 a day because I’m going to parlay that into $500 a day for whores and booze.”
… Of course you are. Good luck with all that.
DRINKS: You really shouldn’t spend that much money on booze while you are in Vegas although this is an illusion… you are paying for your booze. When you’re sitting at the Blackjack table getting free Vodka/Red Bulls, you are paying. The casinos are merely giving you the illusion you aren’t by giving you the privilege of losing your money at the aforementioned Blackjack table. Fact of the matter is, is that it’s much cheaper to actually buy drinks at the bar, but where’s the fun in that? You can do that in your home town.
There is a way to bring down the cost of these free drinks by selecting games that are slow in nature. Obvious ones are Roulette (with lots of people at the table), Pai Gow poker, Keno, and Sports Books. Stupid ones are Blackjack and Craps. More on this later in our gambling exposé.
FOOD: There is something eerie about how secondary the process of consuming food becomes whilst in Vegas. Yes, you will eat, but it becomes an afterthought. THIS COULD BE THE DRUNKEN HAZE. There are many fine restaurants… I hear. I have not attended them much.
I’m more of the wake-up at 10am, stumble to a random buffet, and stare at soggy scrambled eggs while I order a bailey’s_coffee kind’a guy. Again, if you’re going to Vegas for the fine dining, you’ve been misled… that is not what Vegas is about. Stay in your home town and attend a four star restaurant, it will save you money and you’ll remember it.
SECRET STASH: Invariably, you’re going to blow it. I don’t specifically know how you’re going to blow, but blow it you shall. This blowing will fall into one of four categories:
- You’ll blow a wad on gambling
- You’ll blow a wad on Girls Girls Girls
- A friend will blow a wad on #1 or #2
- You’re in serious shit for some other reason
If you’re in category four, call someone who cares about you and run for it. If you end up somewhere between categories 1 through 3, you have a choice. You can GET THE HELL OUT OF DODGE or you can dip into your secret stash. I’m not talking about an extra $100 stuck in your shoe or $50 sitting under your pillow. If you’re in a state of screwedness, this money is already gone. I’m talking about emergency cash which is reasonably hard to get to. My preference has always been the ATM.
I always get all my cash out up front for a trip. That way, I can always see how I’m doing with quick count of the money clip. If I’m screwed, I’ve got the ATM. The ATM is useful in two ways. First, they are everywhere. Second, they usually have some reasonable withdrawal limit. This withdrawal limit is your savior because if you’ve built up significant momentum in your screwedness, you’re liable to do it again. The withdrawal limit on the ATM forces you to pace yourself, take a deep breath, and stop bleeding cash.
SPECIAL NOTE TO CREDIT CARD ENTHUSIASTS: Yes, I have not mentioned credit cards. Careful readers will know why. “If you don’t have the cash, don’t go.” Vegas is home to your discretionary dollars… not your debt. Use of credit cards, while attractive, means you’re going to be paying for the trip for the next few months/years PLUS INTEREST. Stupid. Leave your credit cards at home.
SPECIAL NOTE TO ATM ENTHUSIASTS: A good warning sign that you should GET THE HELL OUT is if you’re sitting somewhere, broke, staring at the clock, waiting for it to go past midnight so you can milk your withdrawal limit AGAIN. This is not where you want to be. Return to the hotel, get some rest, and leave as soon as possible.
Bail: SEE IT WAS A JOKE.
There are other less obvious accessories that you might forget when you’re packing for that Vegas trip.
The Nice Outfit: For this trip, I’m bringing the usual assortment of shorts and shirts appropriate for trip to the desert. I always bring, at least, one very nice outfit. The crew usually makes fun of me because I primp before the big night out… “WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS?” Well, no one in particular, it’s just a different mood to hit the town with.
The Home Outfit: Courtesy of Papagarzio. The home outfit is the set of clothes you wear home. Doesn’t matter what it is, what does matter is that you put it in some type of plastic bag before you get to Vegas. Why? Well, no matter how hard you try, EVERYTHING on your suitcase is going to smell of stale smoke. Doesn’t matter if you don’t smoke, doesn’t matter if you get a non-smoking room. Using a home outfit can help set the stage for a comfortable transition back to reality.
The Money Clip: While this might be viewed as a glamour item (which it is), it is also very practical. The money clip not only constrains the amount of money you can carry, it also replaces your wallet. WHY DO I NOT WANT MY WALLET RANDS? Your wallet likely contains all sorts of plastic that can get you in trouble at five in the morning after your fifteenth screwdriver. If you don’t have your credit card, you can’t use it. Pretty simple.
Altoids: A convienence. Remember that your schedule is going to be all fucked up in Vegas. Day is night, night is day. If you happen to remember to brush your teeth, super. If not, Altiods can help. The Altoid is a good minty swift kick to the teeth. If you’re thinking Lifesavers are more appropriate, you’re wrong. I usually bring two boxes, one which I carry with and offer to the crew and another which lives in the hotel room. Your friends will thank you.
Water: You don’t need to get this until you’re settled in your hotel room, but you do want to purchase this before your first night out. Any good boozer knows that before you go to bed after a twenty-seven hour binge that you need as much good water as you can drink and Tylenol. There will likely be two kinds of water in your hotel room when you arrive: tap and pay per drink. The tap water blows and the pay per drink is expensive — take ten minutes to stock up before you’re stumbling.
Cell phone: Pretty obvious, but I often see folks leave their cell in their hotel room because they’re incorrectly under the impression that cell phones aren’t allowed in a casino. Incorrect. They are not allowed AT tables or IN sports bars, but they’re fine everywhere else and you’re going to need it. Normal people act bizarre in Vegas and you’re going to neeed to call them to figure out where the hell they are.
So, you’re ready. You’ve got your bank roll. You’ve got your posse. Your accessories. And you, like me, are flying out tonight at 10pm. You still have lots of questions… questions like:
- Which strip club?
- How should I gamble? Where should I gamble?
- What if I puke?
- How come I’m always losing?
- I think I’m in love with a stripper, what should I do?
- I’ve got two days left and 20 dollars. What now?
- Still puking here. Help.
These questions and more will be answers in our following columns.
Next up: Knowing Your Booze…