Las Vegas is nicknamed "Sin City" for a reason. Whether you're in town for a bachelor party, convention, or a poker tournament, at some point one of your friends will blurt out, "Let's go to a strip club!".
Going broke in Las Vegas is one of the most depressing things you can imagine, especially if you went busto on the first or second day of your trip. So if you're broke but your flight home doesn't leave for a day or two, here are a few suggestions for how to occupy your time by taking advantage of free entertainment, or by making your own fun on a very limited budget…
The coolest thing about Las Vegas is the amount of free entertainment you can find in different casinos. If you are looking to kill some time, you just have to know the right places to find free stuff. For example, if you like tropical fish, check out the free aquarium at Silverton.
A couple of the casinos on the Strip offer up live entertainment. The Mirage has its infamous volcano that explodes every hour after dusk. Treasure Island has a revamped free show called “The Sirens of TI” that includes sword fights, intricate dancing, and a high dive.
If you're a music lover, check out the free concert series at the Cosmopolitan because they book good bands to perform at the Bond or at The Chandelier.
At the Rio, you can get a taste of Carnival with their free “show in the sky” which starts at 6pm in Masquerade Village.
If you make your way downtown, you can watch the different displays on the ceiling of the Fremont Experience. Bands occasionally perform for free on Fremont Street as well. Plus since you're Downtown, you can always sit down and watch the freaks wander around.
There's also the classic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign that is on the tip of Las Vegas Blvd. just south of Mandalay Bay. It's one of those places where you're obligated to take a picture in front of it.
At Circus Circus you can see the world's longest-running “permanent” live circus. Performances start at 11am daily. It's something you have to experience at least once. Author Hunter S. Thompson summed it up best: "The Circus-Circus is what the whole world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the sixth Reich."
Believe it or not, you can spend a day at the Bellagio without spending a cent. You can always zone out and stare at the intricate, psychedelic ceiling design in the Bellagio's lobby, which was designed by famous glass blower Dale Chihuly. The Bellagio also has an aromatic flower conservatory that changes with the seasons.
In front of the Bellagio in their man-made lake, you can view their water show and watch the fountains dance to different music like classical hits or Broadway show tunes. There's also the Baccarat Bar inside the Bellagio with live musicians performing “classical jazz sounds” starting at 4:20pm daily. Oh, and if you're a chocolate lover, you can always gawk at the world's largest chocolate fountain at Jean-Phillipe's store.
Ride the Deuce
For a nominal fee, you can ride up and down Las Vegas Blvd. on a double decker bus nicknamed “The Deuce.” The bus runs 24 hours and it's a good way to "people watch" as tourists walk up and down the Strip. Traffic is always horrible and the bus sometimes crawls at a snail's pace during peak hours, but if you have a lot of time to kill then you won't mind about how slow it takes the bus to drive the entire length of Las Vegas Blvd.
Listen to bad beat stories
No one likes to hear a bad beat story, but everyone lives to tell them. That's why you should consider creating a "Bad Beat Story Service" and charge poker players $1 for you to listen to their sad story. Hang out at one of the more popular poker rooms around the Strip like the Venetian or Aria and chat up the sad ones on the rail.
Also, check the schedules to see if there's any major poker tournaments series running (like the World Series of Poker or Five Diamond), because then you'll have thousands of dejected players roaming the halls of the Rio's convention center and looking to tell anyone how they were eliminated. If you charge $1 per bad beat, you can run up your bankroll rather quickly and get back in the game.
Beg for money on Las Vegas Blvd.
If things get really bad, you can always beg other tourists for money but you have to come up with some sort of really good angle. Tell your bad beat story but make sure it's a really good tale that draws a lot of sympathy. If you're a comedian, you can always tell jokes.
If that doesn't work, dress up like Spider-Man or some other comic book character and charge tourists $1 to pose for pictures with you. If you're a musician, you can always busk for tips by playing the guitar or some other instrument.
Bonus: Midnight bowling
The bowling alley at the Gold Coast has a $1 Midnight special. Shoe rental is only $1 and games are just $1. The dive bar in the bowling alley often has drink specials, so ask the bartender what they're offering at that time. For $10, you can bowl a couple of games and get a couple of beers.
I get asked about poker rooms all the time. It's really hard to give someone a specific answer, because much like playing poker, it all “depends” on the situation. What constitutes a good poker room? I'm looking for terrible players with deep pockets, comfortable seats, good and quick dealers, and a knowledgeable floor staff to adjudicate disputes in a swift, fair manner.
Buffets and Las Vegas go hand-in-hand. Buffets represent the best and worst aspects of our self-indulgent culture of overconsumption. If you like to people watch, then a trip to the buffet is like a National Geographic special – spending time in the wildlife watching lions in the Serengeti feast on gazelles.
You're in downtown Las Vegas and either got really drunk and a taxi dropped you off there, or you opted to let your friend book a cheap vacation and ended up at one of the many seedy no-tell motels on East Fremont. Well do not fear, I have a couple of things you can do while you're slumming in Downtown Vegas…
When I was a kid, my parents told me they saw Elvis Presley perform in Las Vegas, so from a very young age I associated Las Vegas with musical spectacles and over-the-top performances. The King has been dead for several decades, but the modern-day headliners in Sin City are still heavyweights like Celine Dion and Elton John.
An entire culture in Las Vegas exists around pool parties. There's been a big push to capitalize on "day clubs" or massive gatherings poolside with lots of booze, lots of skin, and lots of loud music.
Las Vegas is one of the few places in America in which you can legally place a sports bet. You don't have to worry about getting scammed by an offshore book or dealing with shady local bookies. If you're a fan of any major sport or horse racing, you'll be able to wager on the outcome at different sports books in Las Vegas.
If you're visiting Las Vegas for an extended period of time, you might want to break up your holiday by scheduling a side trip. Las Vegas is a pretty crazy place and excessive indulgence has ruined too many people, which is why you sometimes need a vacation away from your Las Vegas vacation.
We've all hit the low point at some point in Las Vegas when you ran bad and lost all your money, whether it was the bad end of variance at the poker table or an annoying dealer cold-decked you at blackjack.