9 ways to drink for free—almost

Thirsty? Broke? Here’s what you do

The Reno/Sparks area is a drinker’s paradise—if you want it to be. I have compiled a list of time-proven ways to drink for free or nearly free using a mix of ingenuity, luck and self-control.

1. Cash your paycheck in a local casino. Depending on what they give away, you can usually get some free drink tokes plus a “lucky pull” on a slot machine or a ticket for a paycheck drawing.

2. Gamble. Every casino will give you complimentary drinks if you gamble. Yes, technically this is not free, but your best bet is to play penny or nickel machines or keno—a great time-killer. As long as you are playing, you can receive drinks. Be sure to tip the cocktail server or bartender or you will be ignored. Start with $2 tips. Then when you’ve established your big-tipper rep, cut back to a buck a round. That should keep the drinks coming.

Who knows? While you are drinking for free, you just might hit the big one. Or not.

3. Take advantage of ladies’ nights. Plenty of bars and clubs around town offer free drinks for women on various nights. For those of you guys who already have an inclination to cross-dress, here’s a chance to fulfill your fantasies and party for free.

4. Invite a friend for two-for specials. When you hear about a place that offers two drinks for the price of one during “happy hour,” bring a buddy. Let her buy the drink, and you can mooch the second one free. You aren’t being cheap. Just frugal.

5. Get to know your bartender. Make conversation with him or her. Do small favors, become a friend, sleep together. Friends buy friends drinks.

6. After-shift drinks. If you are a casino employee and have a casino ID, some bars offer your first drink free. Once again, be sure to tip. Tipping goes a long way in this town—your face and tip will be remembered.

7. Scrounge drink tokes. You can start by looking on the floor around the cashiers’ cage or around slot machines for discarded tokes. Check sidewalks outside, too, especially in the gutters. This may seem a desperate move, but these are desperate times.

8. Hook up with the underground drink toke trading network. Be patient. It may take some time to find the “right” people. Then again, maybe someday you’ll be walking downtown and someone will approach you with a “Pssst. Hey buddy, want to score some drink tokes?”

9. Cozy up to the old guy at the end of the bar. Listen intently to memories of his military service, lost love yarns or the story about the time he went out to Burning Man. Absorb his advice, or at least keep nodding your head. This is usually good for a few drinks—maybe an evening’s worth if you play it right.

Well, there you have it. If you’re broke and thirsty and have a few brain cells left, this could be your guide to boozy bliss. And don’t forget: Be sure to tip your bartenders and cocktail waitresses.