Casinos in Las Vegas (and some other locales, including Colorado), give free alcoholic drinks to players to entice them to gamble. The only catch is that you have to be gambling — or at least look like you’re gambling — to score these free drinks. Fortunately, there’s a way to do this without breaking the bank!
Check out my post on free drinks while gambling for a more comprehensive overview on the ins and outs of free drinks.
Slow rolling is one of my favorite techniques for getting free (or very cheap) drinks. It’s a portmanteau of my own creation, combining “slow play” with “low rolling” to help you get drunk for pennies on the dollar.
If you’re patient (and less of a degenerate gambler than me), you will be spending more on tips for your free drinks than you will gambling.
Steps to slow rolling
- Sit down at a machine; insert your players card and some cash
- Listen for the siren call of “driiiinks? cocktaaaiiiiiills?”
- Make eye contact with the cocktail waitress
- As she walks over to you, make a minimum bet or two so that she sees you’re gambling
- Order your drink
- Kill time until the cocktail waitress returns; get your tip ready
- As she returns, make another small bet or two
- Collect your drink and tip
- Repeat until you are sufficiently drunk
Be strategic with your location
Cocktail waitresses have designated areas that they serve. If you observe their route for a bit before sitting down, you will see the areas that they cover and what direction they go. I always try to anticipate the direction that waitresses are heading and get settled in at a machine slightly ahead of them, so that I can minimize the time spent waiting at the machine since I’m an impatient and degenerate gambler.
If you really want to take it to the next level, I recommend sitting near the bar or service window, since the waitress will be going there the most. On the other side of the coin, there are some dead areas that have slower service, so make sure you don’t end up there.
Order another round
Cocktail waitresses generally have two states: taking orders (empty tray) and delivering drinks (full tray). The normal cycle is to order, wait for the waitress to return, get your free drink/trade any empties you have, drink your cocktail while she completes her round, and wait for her to return to repeat the cycle.
You can effectively double your drinks if you request another drink as the waitress gives you your drink (rather than waiting to order again the next time she comes around). If you’re tipping well and being friendly, they will often accommodate this request. Just be aware that they can’t give you a new drink unless your old one is empty, so make sure you can keep up if you’re pursuing this more aggressive pace.
Find the cheapest machine
If you’re not a gambler and are only in it for the free drinks, find a slot machine that lets you choose your lines played and credits per line separately. You should be looking for a slot machine (often older ones) that have two rows of buttons. The top row will give you the option to select how many lines to play, and the bottom will give you the option to select how many credits to bet per line. Multiply the lines played by the credits per line for your bet per spin.
Selecting one line at the lowest bet will allow you to make the smallest possible bet (often as low as 1¢ to 5¢) per spin, further stretching your value. Make sure you are at a 1¢ machine, where betting one credit = one penny. While you are very unlikely to win anything with this strategy, a couple dollars into the machine will get you all of the free drinks you want.
Tip, drink, and be merry
Cocktail waitresses are people too! Treat them with respect, be friendly, tip generously, and they will take great care of you. I tip $1 per drink, and make a point to make eye contact and use my please and thank yous, and I’ve always had excellent service.
If you’re planning to post up at a machine and hunker down for a marathon drinking session, a bigger tip on the first drink will assure you’ll never be empty. A $5 for your first drink along with the magical words “I’ll take another whenever you come by” and the standard $1 per drink after will ensure that your cocktail waitress comes by frequently.
Order an H2O, too
Just like you need to hydrate before, during, and after running a marathon, you need to hydrate during a drinking marathon. Since casinos insist on giving you comically small bottles of water that can be drank in two or three big gulps, I recommend ordering one alongside each drink (and adjusting your tip to $2 accordingly). If you keep up on the hydration, you’ll avoid a hangover and be good to take advantage of the free drinks for the duration of your trip.
Keep your eyes on the prize
Don’t fall into the casino’s trap! Make sure your bet or speed of play doesn’t go up with your BAC; as your buzz sets in, it can be tempting to bet more or start mashing the bet button. Remember that the point of slow rolling is to bet as little as possible as slowly as possible and game the system for free drinks, so keep your gambling in check.
This is a definite instance of “do as I say, not as I do” because I’ve had my share of very expensive “free” drinks; my friends still give me shit (and make thinly veiled jokes about gambling addiction) over the “free” $21 Heineken I earned pressing my luck on video blackjack at the old Riviera (RIP) or the “free” $51 Heineken I earned at the Flamingo after losing 5 straight $10 hands while Kostas was in the bathroom.