Those tiered loss programs are still great, even if you don't go back to Vegas. I would play them all even if I only got the first tier.
The first phase is playing with your own money, where you get rebated if you lose. In this situation, you want to play the game with the best odds, and then maximize your chance of losing. Sounds weird, but makes sense if you think about it-- you get $1000 only if you lose, so a 50% chance of loss makes the deal worth roughly $500, a 70% chance of loss makes it worth $700, etc.
At the same time, increasing your chance of loss also increases your variance. So if you have some friends visiting Vegas with you, agree to all play the same strategy and split the winnings/losses.
For the first round on tables, play roulette. The odds are okay and you can control your chances of loss fairly precisely. When I did it, I bet on thirds (first 12, second 12, third 12). If you have a friend there, have him play at the exact same time and bet on a different third. Looks sort of fishy, but we got away with it. They might say something if you cover all the thirds, but maybe not.
For the first round on slots, play the biggest video poker you can find. Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, or Bonus Poker are good choices (in that order). In an ideal world you'd want to find a machine that would let you play $200 "coins" so that you could just play one hand and be done with it., but that doesn't exist. Probably you'll get a $25 machine, or, if you're lucky, a $100 machine. Multiplay machines can also allow you to bet large amounts. Pick a multiplier up front and stick to it-- i.e. don't quit until you triple your money. The higher a multiplier you chose the better your EV is. I always do 3x.
When you get your refund, you must play it through. On the table side they give you $25 promo chips, and on the slot side they give you credit.
For tables, play roulette and bet only on individual numbers. You get the winnings from the chips, but not the actual chips. That means that on a 50/50 coin toss game (like betting on a color in roulette), you're only getting about 50% of the value of the chips back. When you bet on numbers, you'll get back over 95% of the value, on average. Bet as many numbers as possible in one spin to maximize your chance of actually hitting one (same EV, less variance).
For slots, play a 100 play video poker machine with relatively small coins. Cash out periodically, as it will always let you cash out what you've played through.