By Dewey Hill

Editor’s note – The 2013 American Casino Guide contains more than 200 coupons that offer substantial savings at many casinos throughout the U.S.  The majority of the coupons are for Las Vegas-area casinos and many Vegas-bound visitors enjoy using them to save money on their trips. 

In this article, Dewey Hill, a long-time purchaser of the Guide, explains how he organizes and uses the coupons to help him, and his friends, save money on their trips to Las Vegas.  Dewey’s focus is mainly on downtown casinos, but he also explains how he organize his efforts to take advantage of  coupons for casinos located near the Las Vegas Strip, as well as in other outlying areas.

American Casino Guide coupons are a fine way to offset the cost of a Vegas trip, and it is very helpful to develop a strategy of usage. Each visitor will have particular favorites. Strategies may differ.

But here are the coupons and the strategies that my friends and I most value and how we plan and organize our use of the American Casino Guide.

First, we remember to take out the identity card that is mounted in the heavy cardboard page in the center of the book and sign it. That is our authorization to use coupons at the various locations, and we may be asked to show this proof along with identification. This eliminates the need to carry the entire book, and it helps protect the coupon program by reducing coupon fraud.

The coupons are arranged alphabetically. It is helpful to cut out those coupons we expect to use and arrange them in geographic piles, so that whatever area of Vegas we happen to visit, we will have them ready at hand. Then we visit this site and skim that easily read list to see that we have not missed any that might be attractive while in Vegas.

Many people just leave the book home and take the coupons. Others rip the coupon section along the binding and take only the coupon section. I bring the entire book with me. I find it a good companion when I have a solo meal, and I often show it to other poker players, especially at the Golden Nugget, so folks can see how to get $10 in free chips for poker play there. If you are new to Vegas, carrying the entire book will suggest the best places to visit and play in Vegas, a map showing the location of all the casinos as well as advice on games and strategies for winning.

Calling casinos is easier using the American Casino Guide as a phone book. So many Internet searches do not easily reveal the actual direct number to the casino. Being able to phone casinos while in Vegas is helpful. Sometimes I have questions on the price of the buffet that day (prices vary on many steak, seafood specially priced days.) Sometimes I want to call the poker room ahead of my arrival and let them put me on the seat waiting list.

My poker buddies and I generally do not rent a car, but other friends do as there are more deals off the strip. Page 360 and 361 of the American Casino Guide offers six separate deals on Alamo or National rentals. Due to the recent explosion in resort fees, charged now by all strip casinos, many visitors are renting cars in Vegas and sleeping at off strip or downtown casinos to avoid high resort fees. The amount saved by not paying a resort fee pays for the rental car.

Strip buffet prices have risen this year as well, so being off strip means being closer to better value on food.

Even just a short ride or walk off-Stirip to Ellis Island to use the American Casino Guide coupons (see page 395) will save money on food. Meals are priced there about 30% lower than comparable meals in strip locations, and then the 2-for-1 or 50% off coupon increases the bargain. It is a wise idea to go to Ellis Island early in a trip. We have to wait as much as 24 hours for the freeplay to be posted to our Player’s account after our initial play. This is a unique restriction. Other freeplay deals offer the freeplay immediately.

For coupon redemption, it certainly is easier to have a rental car in Vegas as it makes easy traveling to see all the interesting outlying casinos represented in the American Casino Guide. But as a senior citizen, I can buy a 15 day RTC pass for $17 or a 30 day pass for $32.50 and that gives me unlimited, all access bus rides for my entire stay for about what I’d pay for gas in a rental car. If you have been put off by the sometimes crowded conditions on strip buses, try one of the residential routes like 202 that runs up and down Flamingo, and you will see the crowds are gone and the rides are easy and comfortable. Locals are friendly. I have been in many interesting bus conversations while traveling solo in Vegas. Combining an all access bus pass with the American Casino Guide is a frugal traveler’s perfect match.

My poker buddies and I often go on what is called a “coupon run” with coupons actually setting our destinations. To illustrate how a “coupon run” might work, let’s consider Downtown Vegas where we need neither car nor bus because we can walk easily from casino to casino.

A typical visit might start by using the El Cortez room coupon on page 393 where on Sunday to Thursday $30 plus $4 tax pays for a two night stay. If we want things a bit more plush than their basic Vintage or Pavillion rooms, usually another $20 will upgrade the coupon to the Cabana or Tower rooms.

With a good sleep at the El Cortez, we start our morning with the $10 El Cortez freeplay coupon.

Then we begin our “coupon run.”

I find it good to do this run early in the trip as it also gives me a tour of each casino, so I can see improvements and changes and just feel the vibe of the place and know where I might want to return to play later. However, a coupon run is also good when my bankroll has diminished.

I like to go on this walk in late morning when there are fewer people at the tables. Sometimes I will play my matchplays at Las Vegas Club or the Plaza just as the table opens and be the only person at the table. That means that I am going to get to roll the dice even if I only make one bet with the coupon.

Any readers who have shied away from craps might like these coupons to introduce them to an exciting and popular Vegas game. The dealers will show you how to make a Pass or No Pass bet, and if you would like to follow it with the best mathematical table bet in Vegas, the dealer will show you how to add free odds if you roll a number. See page 98 of the American Casino Guide for a detailed overview of this game.

When the Plaza was being renovated, Las Vegas Club let me use the Plaza matchplay coupon there as well as the Las Vegas Club coupon. Once they even let me use both coupons back to back on the same craps table. So if the Las Vegas Club goes into renovation, ask at the Plaza if they will honor the Las Vegas Club matchplay. Sometimes coupons have to be cancelled or chnaged, but in many of those cases some other venue will honor the cancelled coupon. To keep track of these changes, visit this online list of coupon changes.

Matchplays are great coupons because they allow a player to be paid double so that even losing with one matchplay and winning with another gives the player a profit.

Don’t forget the coupon for $5 freeplay at both Las Vegas Club and the Plaza. My son once used $5 freeplay and walked away with $80 profit. If we don’t play long enough to be served a free beverage, the 2-for-1 drink coupons good at any Las Vegas Club or Plaza bar will ease our sense of loss.

By this time it is probably time for lunch. Magnolia’s at the Four Queens serves great food and the 2-for-1 coupon is on page 405. Magnolia’s serves microbrew beer as well. I recommend the sampler.

While we are at the Four Queens, we will always do some gambling. The coupon that doubles points up to 500, if used to the max, is one of the most valuable coupons in the American Casino Guide. When you collect your cashback, the 500 points earned with the coupon at the Four Queens will give you $12.50. I love their 10/7 Double Bonus Progressive Royal video poker which is the best of its kind in all of Vegas and perhaps in all the world.

Just be certain to use the point doubler on a day when you are going to do the most amount of play as it can only be used once a year.

We then can walk across the street to Binion’s and get the same deal on double points and if we are still hungry, a hamburger on the 2-for-1. The Golden Gate also has a deal where we earn $25 freeplay by earning 200 points and, for new visitors, a $25 matchplay coupon as well (p. 407-409)

We always make time to visit the Golden Nugget live poker room, our favorite downtown poker room, offering a good selection in limit games ($2-$4 and $3-$6 with half kills,) along with no limit, and having wonderful progressive bonus payouts for high hands. Check and see the hours at which the house doubles the high hand bonus pays. The last time I played, I saw a fellow get $666 for quad queens.

With the American Casino Guide Golden Nugget coupon we can buy $60 in chips for just $50 cash. The last time I played there, I left after 5 hours and I cashed out for $10. so the coupon enabled the session to be a winning one.

Also, after we play for four hours we can ask for a $10 food voucher. They don’t keep a list or swipe us in, so I say something to the manager as I get my seat assignment and that sets it up in his head that I will ask sometime after four hours have gone by. I also note the time I start play as they may ask when I request a voucher. It can be used in various places for food at the Golden Nugget, but if we use it for the buffet, it is also a line pass. That is a popular buffet and the lines are often very long, so it is a great benefit to go in the VIP line and be seated right away. When we play there late at night, we ask for them to date the voucher for the next day, and use it the next morning for breakfast.

If we have played poker after lunch and into suppertime, it is time to walk back to the El Cortez to freshen up and to have a fine supper in the Flame restaurant. Reservations are helpful. The $25 savings of the 50% off coupon is good value, and unlike some savings coupons, when I want to eat there solo, this coupon is still valid. I usually have the walleye which is done with some exotic green herb that I love.

Staff is very accommodating and there are some interesting but not intrusive television stations, one showing marvelous shots of places to travel around the world to entertain solo diners.

One other point to remember is that sometimes the El Cortez will offer room deals that include a generous amount of food credit. We can use our 50% off American Casino guide coupon at the Flame and still charge the cash part of the bill to the room, so it counts as part of the casino food offer. Also, I have been served a free bottle of wine using a coupon that came with my room materials at check-in. It is a large bottle and the red is very good. So a meal at the Flame can be quite a good bargain.

In the evening, we might head back to the Four Queens for a bit more 10/7 Double Bonus play and use the American Casino Guide coupon for the 2-for-1 shows there. It is not uncommon that attending one show gets us a deal on the other show as well. And sometimes they have matchplays for those who see that show. We ask whoever greets us on the way out of the theater if there are any matchplays and we sometimes find they go back and get one for each of us. It is not uncommon to have a night of entertainment at the Four Queens that ends up being absolutely free.

At some point in a visit downtown, we try to visit the Gambler’s General Store on Main Street and use the coupon on page 365 for 15% off our order. We particularly like getting nice decks of new cards for as little as a dollar that can be used in home poker games as well as 25-cent cut cards in various colors. Once again the bus pass helps us access this location.

On our next trip, we hope to use the 2-for-1 coupon on page 397 for the Erotic Heritage Museum!

You can see that organizing coupons by geographic area is very helpful . You will find values and opportunities enabled by American Casino Guide coupons in all Vegas areas. My poker buddies and I group coupons into these geographic piles for coupon runs:

* Along Flamingo from the Palms all the way to Sam’s Town and Long Horn.
* The Strip from Harrah’s to the Stratosphere including one of the most valuable coupons in the American Casino Guide, the two free comedy tickets for the Riviera.
* The Strip from Harrah’s to Flamingo.
* The Strip from South from Flamingo.
* Out to Suncoast, just a half hour using the WAX bus from downtown.
* A ride out to Jerry’s Nugget, just twenty minutes on the MAX bus from downtown.
* A visit to Laughlin for an overnight stay. A car is needed for this one.

I hope this article has been helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments, remember the discussion board on the American Casino Guide’s web site is just for that purpose. Perhaps you would like to share how you use American Casino Guide coupons on the discussion board?

Dewey Hill retired from teaching English to travel in the most frugal ways, play poker at the lowest limits, and fish bluegills.  His love of Vegas, as well as his disdain for resort fees, keeps him on discussion boards and blogging daily.