The World Series of Poker’s move from the Rio to Bally’s and Paris in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip will increase convenience in many aspects, but it will likely increase costs, too, given the higher charges levied on tourists in the most popular locations in the city.
Consider the following tips to save money on transportation, food, and lodging so you’ll have more for the poker tables.
Ditch the car to save on parking fees
Before casinos on the Strip began charging parking fees, it was clearly advantageous for most out-of-town visitors to rent a car, given the low cost of rentals and the convenience that having a vehicle presents. That was especially true when the WSOP was held at the Rio, given its distance from the Strip and its ample free parking.
Now that parking at most places on the Strip costs upwards of $20 per day, the cost curve has bent toward using other forms of transportation to get around if you’re planning on staying in the general area and not, say, trekking to Mt. Charleston.
When using taxis, “long-hauling” through the tunnel near Harry Reid International Airport is no longer an issue, as regulators have established set rates from the airport to various sections of the Strip. It now costs a flat $23 to get from the airport to Bally’s or Paris, for example. As a general rule, you’re still likely better off using Uber or Lyft to travel from place to place instead of taxis, however. Recent trips from the airport to mid-Strip cost around $10-$15 through the ride services, depending on surge pricing.
The monorail is now also a viable option, as it stops at most major casino resorts on the East side of the Strip between Sahara and MGM Grand, including a station for Bally’s and Paris. Plus, it’s not piloted by Homer Simpson, so safety isn’t a concern.
If you do decide to rent a car, some casinos relatively close to Bally’s and Paris still offer free parking, including Casino Royale, Cosmopolitan, and Tropicana. But with the WSOP now located in the middle of the Strip, it’s now more feasible to walk from that poker festival to many restaurants, casinos, and other activities than it was before.
Score some nice discounts using casino game apps
In 2019, I highlighted three casino game apps that users could play to earn some pretty good rewards: myVegas, Wynn Slots, and Binion’s. These have been greatly watered down over the past three years, unfortunately. Binion’s no longer awards users with rewards, and Wynn Slots requires plenty of coin purchases to earn room rewards. (I stayed for four nights at Wynn during the 2019 WSOP completely free.)
However, myVegas remains a solid option for free or reduced room and food options. And since the game is part of the MGM Resorts International family, you’ll enjoy plenty of options for freebies near the WSOP. The list of MGM Strip casinos offering rewards on myVegas includes Aria, Bellagio, Park MGM, MGM Grand, New York-New York, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and Mirage.
Discounted rooms and 2-or-1 food specials can usually be had for a low number of loyalty points (the currency for purchasing rewards on the app), while the better rewards that offer free nights (less the required resort fee, of course) or free food without the BOGO requirement cost more. Fortunately, you get 400 loyalty points daily when you log into myVegas now, and there are four versions of the game you can play to earn the points (these also include myVegas on Facebook, myKonami, and myVegas blackjack).
Think outside the box on accommodations
The WSOP moving to a more central location opens up many more accommodation and food options. Likely, you’ve never been to Ellis Island Hotel & Casino, since it doesn’t feature a poker room. But the property, a block behind Bally’s and Paris (a walkable stretch down Flamingo Avenue), offers cheaper rooms and great food specials (ask about the steak special not on the menu at the Village Pub & Café). Plus, it has its own brewery with some of the best local beers in Las Vegas.
Being on the Strip also opens up more hotels within walking distance of the WSOP – a Motel 6 here and a Hilton Garden Inn there. Also, don’t forget about the possibility of renting out a nearby condo, such as the one located at Polo Towers or the Jockey Club.
One last note: having a mini-fridge in your room will allow you to save on food and drink. Most hotels charge for that amenity, but if you say you need a refrigerator for medications, they must provide you one free of charge. If that’s stretching the truth a little … well, I won’t tell if you won’t.
Johnny Kampis — the author of “The Essential Guide to Vegas during the World Series of Poker” and “Vegas or Bust: A Family Man Takes on the Poker Pros” — has been making the summer trek to Las Vegas from Alabama since 2004. When not playing poker, he’s a professional journalist who’s written for American Spectator, Fox News, HuffPost, Watchdog.org, and many others. He currently writes for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and serves on the FCC’s media advisory panel.
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