Doing Vegas on a Tight Poker Budget is Possible (I Promise!)

My first “poker trip” to Las Vegas was in July 2007, I believe. Or, maybe it was 2008 (?). Anyway, whenever it was that I came here for the purpose of playing poker for the first time, I was on a tight budget.

I came here with a friend and my under-21 brother who we bought a case of beer for and told him to get drunk in the hotel room while we were out playing poker. At the time, my bankroll was low but I still wanted to have some fun away from the poker tables, stay in a casino on the Strip, and of course play plenty of poker.

To accommodate those desires, we stayed at the dirt cheap Sahara which is now the SLS and is no longer $35 a night. We also did a lot of walking which, along with getting some much needed exercise, it saved us money on transportation.

The Sahara is gone, but there are still some affordable options in Las Vegas, although that is becoming more difficult on the Strip with the $30-$45 per night added “resort fees,” which are additional daily charges the casinos tack onto the base rate. So, even though you can get a room at Luxor or Excalibur for $40 or less on many nights, that will turn into $70-$75 plus tax once the resort fee is applied, which is still a reasonable price.

Best Time to Travel: Sunday to Friday

If you’re on a budget, the best time to come to Vegas is during the week, checking in on Sunday and out on Friday. Hotel rates, and sometimes even airfare, are much cheaper during the week than over the weekend. In many cases, a hotel that costs $50 during the week will cost over $120 on the weekend.

When I used to travel to Las Vegas to play poker, I would always stay at a cheap place that is within walking distance to the action and had a clean, comfortable room. I won’t stay in some dingy Motel 6 or one of those disgusting “hooker motels” up on the north end of the Strip. Instead of just settling for anything to save a buck, I find the best value hotels. Here is a list of decent places to stay for those on a budget:

  • Luxor (South Strip)
  • Excalibur (South Strip)
  • Flamingo (Central Strip)
  • Stratosphere (North Strip)
  • The D (Downtown)
  • Silverton (South of Strip)

Unfortunately, there are no poker rooms at The D or Silverton and you’ll have to either take a bus or Uber to a card room, but these a decent cheap places with some quality restaurants. If you’re expecting a room equivalent to what you’d find at the Bellagio, you’ll be disappointed. But if all you desire is a clean and comfortable room in a decent location for a reasonable price, you can’t go wrong with the above hotels.

Have fun in Vegas, but keep your expenses down so you have plenty of cash to play poker. Don’t eat at the fancy steakhouses unless you can afford an $80 meal. Make sure you get a players card at every casino you visit so you’ll earn comps for meals and hotel stays.

Author: Jon Sofen