Saving Money with the American Casino Guide 2013

American Casino Guide 2013 Front CoverThe American Casino Guide is a paperback book published annually by Casino Vacations Press and authored by Steve Bourie. It contains all the basics on the major casino games, with honest and accurate information about how to play, what the odds are, and what strategies to use to maximize your chances of winning. It also has detailed contact and property info for nearly every casino in the country. For the third straight year, this edition includes an entertaining and informative seven page story by Dewey Hill of Dewey’s Vegas Adventures (pages 22-28) which tells everything you need to know about resort fees in Las Vegas and how to avoid/protest them – definitely worth educating yourself about.

This is where I first noticed that the editing of the book is not quite perfect. The final paragraph on page 22 and the first two paragraphs on page 23 are a repeat of the earlier text. There are a few other errors, like the reference in the Las Vegas section that points to the wrong page for this article, but please forgive these small foibles. The value of this book far outweighs any annoyance caused by the little errors within. Hopefully, you feel the same about this blog.

American Casino Guide Las Vegas ExcerptGetting to the Las Vegas section (pages 233-256), Steve offers some tips on the best deals in Vegas, the best places to play, his favorite free attractions, and information on nearly every hotel/casino in the valley. Pages 255-256 feature an article by Gaming Today columnist H. Scot Kraus with more free things to do and see in Vegas.

Steve also reports annual statistics for the payback percentages of slot machines broken down by region and bet amount (page 235). These percentages can help give you a clue where the best games are found at each denomination – the higher the better. Las Vegas has some of the highest payback percentages in the country. If you want to know where to find highest payback in Vegas I’ll give you a hint: As a general rule, you’ll have to get off the Las Vegas Strip. Seems like you’re reading the right blog.

Since I first discovered it in 2008, I have bought a new guide every year. In fact, I pre-ordered my copy of the 2013 edition in September. Why? Do I care that much about the payback percentage of penny slots downtown? Do the strategies, rules or games vary that much from year to year? Do I need to know if there are any new casinos in Montana? Nope. In fact, every year since that first year I have torn out the last couple hundred pages of the book and given the rest away.

Don’t get me wrong. The information in the front of the book is great, and I read every bit of it when I first got my hands on this book five years ago. Now I pass it on to friends and keep the best, most valuable part of the book for myself. You see, the back of this book is loaded with coupons, and roughly half of them can be used at casinos in Las Vegas.

American Casino Guide 2013 Discount CardThe coupons come with a card which you will need to show, identifying yourself as a purchaser of the book. You will need this card along with the coupon in some places, so it’s best to just cut it out and keep it in your wallet. The coupons themselves are divided up by state, then region (Las Vegas has its own section) and are listed alphabetically by the business name.

American Casino Guide 2013 El Cortez CouponsHow good are the coupons? This year there is a coupon for 50% off your meal at the Flame Steakhouse in the El Cortez that offers up to $25 in savings. This coupon alone can save you more than the cost of the book. While you’re at El Cortez you can also get $10 free slot play in the casino. There’s even a coupon to give you a hefty discount off of a hotel room.

Bring your coupons to the Four Queens and you can get two-for-one Mike Hammer tickets, two-for-one lunch or dinner entrees at Magnolia’s, and double players club points for a day (up to 500). There are $5, $10 and $25 table game match plays for casinos all over the valley, two for one show tickets, food and drink discounts, bonus slot club points and free slot play. There are even some nationwide coupons you can use on car rental and buying gambling goodies online.

This book easily pays for itself every year. I’ve discovered great places I had never been (like The Flame), and I’ve never had any trouble using the coupons. I was so confident that I would get my money’s worth out of this book that I pre-ordered my personal copy not knowing what this year’s coupons would be. It’s probably the safest bet I’ll make all year.

Thanks to Steve Bourie and Casino Vacations Press for providing a complimentary review copy at my request so that I could share this with you before the book arrived in stores.

Three great ways to get the American Casino Guide:

  • Buy it for $18.95 at your local bookstore when it becomes available (likely mid-late December).
  • Place a pre-order for a discounted copy from Amazon and help out this blog. (A small percentage of your total purchase made after clicking through the affiliate link comes back to LasVegasOffStrip and helps support the costs of providing this site.)
  • Win a FREE copy before you can buy one (US/Canada Residents only) in the next Where In Vegas contest. Stay tuned.

Tips:

  • The El Cortez hotel room coupon states it is for a Vintage or Pavilion room, but when you call for reservations you can use the coupon for a nice discount on the swankier Cabana Jr. Suites as well. Also note, this only applies for a Sun-Wed arrival and a minimum 2 night stay. Details like this (restrictions) can be found in the text on the front and back of each coupon. Though most of the restrictions are quite reasonable, it pays to read closely.
  • Many casino coupons require a trip to the player’s club (and membership, which is free) to redeem, so make sure the player’s club will be open when you get there.
  • Updates to coupons and other valuable information for bargain hunters can be found on the American Casino Guide website. Follow the link below.
  • New this year! Download the free American Casino Guide App for iPhone.

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Ellis Island Cafe: The Best Steak Special in Las Vegas

Steak Special Receipt $8.82Ellis Island Casino and Microbrewery at 4178 Koval Lane is both as close (less than ½  a mile from Bally’s) and as far (it’s small, low brow, full of locals and attached to a Super 8) from the strip as you can be. They are known for their Italian style pizza joint (Metro), bbq, low limit gambling and the off-menu steak special in the cafe.

If you’re in the know (and now you will be,) you can get a soup or salad with rolls and butter, a steak, a vegetable and a starch, and a microbrewed beer for $7.99. That’s right. For $8.82 including tax, you can have a two course steak dinner with sides and a beer. This special is not on their menu, but it is available for the asking 24/7.

Steak Fries and Green BeansThe cafe is like a nicer version of Denny’s, with formica tables and paper placemats. The waitstaff is curt but efficient, and the food, especially the steak, is far better than expected. They give you a ten ounce cut of sirloin, at least an inch thick in the center, and cooked exactly to your order. My steak was lean and tender, with none of the gristle and fat that you need to cut away from the other steak specials in Las Vegas. I would have a hard time getting the meat alone at my local butcher shop for less than I paid for this whole meal.

Salad, Roll and BeerThe salad was average, mostly iceburg lettuce with a cherry tomato and a bunch of croutons. The rolls and butter were cold, but tasted okay. With my steak came green beans cooked with chunks of garlic – very good, and a good portion of steak fries. For my beer I chose their dark lager, which was brown and tasty and fresh. If you’ve ever had a Yuengling Black and Tan, then you’ve got the idea.

I have tried every steak special I can find in Vegas and this one tops them all. Ellis Island is practically giving away a fantastic steak dinner, just to get you in the door. This is one of the reasons I love Vegas. Don’t miss it!

Tips:

  • This place can get busy on weekend nights. Expect a wait Thu-Sat.
  • If you prefer, you can substitute a craft brewed root beer for your beer.
  • Call ahead to book a free brewery tour. Details at the website below.

Website: www.ellisislandcasino.com
Ellis Island Brewery on Urbanspoon
Update: December 22, 2012
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