I generally gamble only when I will get more than my winnings in food or rooms or some added benefit. This turns the adage, "don't gamble for comps" on its head. I generally only gamble when there will be comps added to my score.
For example, I often play using a coupon for a free buffet after 200 earned points at the Gold Coast or Sam's or wherever it is offered. Last trip. VP play at Eastside Cannery earned free buffets. All of my play is on machines with full pay tables.
Even 8-5 Bonus poker is off my menu unless it is at the D when the progressives are up.
My Orleans play is a 9/7 DB nickel three play with progressives on each royal line and I try to do that on Senior day for added freebies, including a free buffet.
If I gamble when I have the edge and also comps added to it, there is no mathematical reason not to be an all day gambler, because over the long run the casino is not grinding me; I'm grinding them.
Live poker depends on who sits down at the table.
My negative play games will be so low as to be unimportant and done just for amusement or perhaps because I'm thirsty. I might play the $10 freeplay at El Cortez (ACG coupon) on a penny machine and play a penny on 3 lines just for the fun of it.
I might end a bad day of real gambling at the nickel roulette machine at the 4 queens playing no more than a quarter a spin in a pattern that reduces volatility.
I did that for a couple hours last trip, recklessly losing 80 cents.
Live Poker sometimes takes me to strip places like the Venetian or Mirage or Monte Carlo for their good limit games. There comps don't factor in. I'm just hoping for good table selection, some of the its-only-money crowd who don't usually find their way to a Golden Nugget game.
Key to my trips is the 4 Queens practice of 3 night comps with weekends included as an option. After plane fare, I find covering weekend hotel rates is the next largest expense. When I was working, I just went Sunday to Friday, or at most Sunday through one weekend and then out on Friday to limit the impact of weekend rooms on my budget.
Now I go for 20-25 nights at a stretch, getting good value from my plane fare.
If I patch my 2 for 1 D comps with 4 Queens 3 night weekend, I can get a nice stretch of nights where checking in and out is quicker and easier than changing rooms in most large casinos. Usually, I get in one room before I have to leave the other, so I don't even have to pack too carefully, but can make a few short trips.
For example, if I get to go on my next trip, I'm looking at 14 nights for under $100 total doing that. To do that I have to plan a trip that straddles a calendar month and get a monthly room comp in two months or manage to catch some other deal like a 4 Queens slot tournament which does not count against my monthly mailer comp. I can only do that downtown.
So the frugality puts me downtown for a good portion of my trips and for almost all of my serious gambling.
The Four Queens gives these comps based on playing full pay DB with a progressive, a paytable in my favor, and adding freeplay to that. So most of my gambling bankroll for a trip is concentrated there.
The D gives the 2 for 1 for moderate play at the Veu bar 8/5 Bonus poker machines with progressives on cheap quads, straight flushes, and the royal. I generally try to focus my play when the quad progressive is up and play until it is hit. Nearby is a little nickel coin dropper of full pay Deuces. I play that inbetween.
I also like playing live poker where I can have an advantage at some tables, some of the time. The Golden Nugget has a limit 2-4 game that will earn me $10 for food the day I play. They double the high hand bonus awards from 2 am until 10 am. So rather then an all day gambler, I am often an all night gambler. Perhaps I've gone to bed at 5 PM, gotten up near 2 AM and played until it was time for my breakfast and a good morning nap.
Last trip quad jacks paid me $600 in the double bonus time.
That was a good hit.
Playing downtown in those early morning hours gave me an extra $300. And that $600 ended up being equal to my profit for that trip in just gambling score.
Downtown is also a hub for those of us who use the bus in Vegas. At the Walgreen's there I can buy a 15 day pass for $17 or a 30 day pass for $34. This then gets me anywhere I want to go on any bus in the system and back to the airport as well.
So I am not limited to downtown just because I stay there. I can easily ride up to the strip for shows or to just walk the casinos and because I am on a bus, the walking is much less because I can target my strip destination.
I can also go out Boulder for entertainment or other advantaged gambling.
I can go out to Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station.
I can ride fairly quickly now to Sunset Station and even to Fiesta Henderson.
I can ride out to the Suncoast.
All of these places are much more accessible from downtown than from any strip or off strip location.
And the WAX makes downtown a comfortable and fast ride from the airport and back again at the end of the trip. I might have to wait a bit for the WAX when I head downtown depending on the plane arrival. But going back, I only have to wait a few minutes at Binions and I'm off and to the airport.
Many trips I add in inexpensive or free shows. MyVegas has given me free tickets to great shows. Comedy is often cheap or free (watch out for SinCity. I think that is a rip off) Sam's Town has a free review that is each Thursday afternoon and different every week. Eastside Cannery has a great Monday night Latin lounge act that can be seen for one beer a set and the beer costs $1.50.
I used to add into the value of a Vegas trip about $40 to $50 in free alcohol each day, but my drinking is now radically altered so most of my drinking is Perrier and perhaps one beer or a couple glasses of red wine a day.
So, after building a frugal trip, I take the difference between what little it costs me to live, eat and get around Vegas and what a similar stay might cost in any other vacation place. That becomes my gambling bankroll. So in one sense, if I lose everything I use as gambling money, I break even because it is "saved" money either as comps or bargains.
There is a huge difference between downtown in the daylight hours and downtown in the dark. Under the canopy at night is an amazing experience in entertainment, much like a street festival. I usually try to escape it during the day if I am not gambling. I like VP in the early morning when no one else is there, but the place itself before the lights are on seems dull to me. I look for other adventures or sleep to prepare for an all nighter.
My next trip I plan to catch 2 free nights at the Orleans and then fill in a weekend with MyVegas comps. We'll see if I can score those. Even if resort fees are charged, those 5 nights will cost me perhaps $80.
I also might add a Sunday - Friday stretch of nights at some casino where I won't gamble. I may not gamble that entire week, but just take the bus around to places I'd like to see. My next trip I hope to do that in a suite at Arizona Charlie's, a king bed in a bedroom and a separate room with couch and television. This costs $160 total, or $32.
I used to do that for a couple nights at the El Cortez on an ACG coupon, but now the resort fee spoils that deal.
So I don't stay downtown all the trip, but I don't stay on the strip either. except as MyVegas lets me. During those MyVegas nights I probably won't gamble unless I like the tables at the Monte Carlo spread limit game. I used to when CET offered good deals for poker players, but the resort fee broke those bargains and the increased poker rakes and decreased bonus opportunities pushed me out of their poker rooms.