by Ashley Adams
I go to Las Vegas at least once a year – and have learned how to minimize my overhead while out there. Less money for expenses translates into more money for tournaments.. Here’s how I save.
Let’s look at the four major cost components of a typical poker vacation:
3. Ground Transportation (taxi, buses, rental cars)
Airfare – Save $150
I live in Boston, Massachusetts. My travel costs may be different from those of you who live elsewhere. Even so, I think the process of saving money is the same, regardless of your place of departure.
Many of my friends have frequent flyer cards and use one airline exclusively. I don’t do that. I use a consolidator, an internet service that scans all airlines for the lowest fare. Recently, I noticed a disparity of $150 between the most expensive seat and the cheapest seat on a round trip flight from Boston to Las Vegas. The best site for this, in my opinion, is Fly.com. It looks at all of the consolidators and finds the cheapest seat. It also shows you the cheapest days to fly, allowing you to further cut your costs by leaving a day or two earlier or later to qualify for the lowest fare.
2. Hotel – Save between $420 and $1,940
First of all, you should decide what kind of a place you want. Maybe you want to stay only in a first class place – five stars all the way. Fine. I just checked the rates through the site of a well-regarded 5 star hotel on the strip in Las Vegas. Their least expensive room was $2,050 for five nights including a Saturday night. I then went to my favorite internet site, Trivago.com – and booked the exact same room for $1,630 – for a savings of $420. But maybe you’re a little more flexible than I was – and are willing to stay in another 5-star hotel – just not that particular one. Using Trivago again, I found another popular, well known place, in roughly the same strip location, for only $750 for five nights including Saturday night – for a savings of $1,250. Same quality, roughly the same location – and over $1,000 less!
Of course if you’re willing to go down slightly in quality you can save even more. I found a well-known three-star hotel, near the northern end of the Strip for just $210 for those same five nights – for a savings of $1,840. Believe it or not, if you want, you can do even better than that in Las Vegas. I typically stay in a clean two-star place for $110 for those five nights – for a savings of $1,940. If you are a serious poker player like I am, you’re spending nearly all your waking hours in a poker room anyway. You’re just using your room for sleep. Who really cares how fancy the pillows and drapes are? So why pay top price?
3. Ground Transportation: Save $225
Many people take cabs wherever they go in Las Vegas. That can get expensive. With a $3.30 initial charge, $2.60 a mile plus $.60 a minute “Waiting time” plus $3 or so to use your credit card – a typical ride from casino to casino or casino to restaurant typically runs no less than $20 a pop including tip. Do that three or four times a day, five days in a row and you’ve out at least $300 to get around in Las Vegas.
Instead, consider renting a car. If you go through Hotwire.com, my favorite site for rental cards, you won’t know what rental car company you have, but I really don’t care about anything but the rate. Recently, I paid just $75 a week (including all taxes and fees) for an economy car –$225 less than using cabs.
4. Meals: Save $300 -- maybe
You can get a room with a kitchenette and cook many of your own meals – saving the cost of going out to eat. Groceries are a lot cheaper than restaurant meals to be sure. I used to do that. I saved a few hundred dollars. But I found that it often wasn’t worth it, since I so enjoy the experience of eating out while in Las Vegas.
All tolled, depending on the choices you make you could save from $795 up to $2,615 for your five-day vacation, airfare included. With the money you save you could afford at least the entry into the Aria’s recently announced $565 tournament with a $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool. Not too shabby! For my money, saving the money is worth the slightly extra effort.
For information about finding poker games while on vacation or traveling, check out my other article on PokerStrategy.com.