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Cheap seats For sports fans on a budget, a trip to Vinny's is a winning game plan

Dressed in my brother's worn polo shirt and a pair of ragged jeans with $20 in my pocket, I walked into Vinny's on a recent weeknight for a nightcap.

Vinny's can offer a patron two things: sports and cheap drinks. If you're looking for glam, dainty martinis or quiet conversation and romance, you're in the wrong neck of the woods. This is the kind of place where everyone can feel like one of the boys.

On a usual night out, I am in some jazzed-up outfit with my girlfriends, blowing my cash on overpriced beverages. It was great being able to sit at Vinny's with a drink in a plastic cup, sitting in lounge clothes, engulfed in loud conversations and people who didn't care who you were, as long as that cup was full.

The motley crowd, made up mostly of men, makes you feel like you're not too old or too young. You just might find yourself slinging back a shot with a familiar face from high school or getting a back-up from the random old guys you were just talking sports with.

With everyone tightening up their wallets these days, this bar has prices that can't be matched. There were signs all over the place advertising their 3-for-$5 Budweiser and Bud Light bottles or 3-for-$5 16-ounce cans of Labatt Blue or Blue Light.

The bartenders may have well been patrons. They were having as much fun as we were and weren't hesitant to join in for a round of shots. They seemed to remember what drinks people ordered and weren't stingy when pouring them. Even though the place was packed, waiting for a refill wasn't a problem. The zigzag architecture of the bar made it easier to find a spot and easier to move around (although at one corner of the bar there's a small hole in the floor that I, of course, managed to step in).

Numerous flat-screen televisions could be seen from every angle and had various sporting events on; there are also three dart boards, a bubble hockey machine and a pool table. There were neon lights, beer signs and sports memorabilia covering every wall, and peanut shells scattered all over the floor. Vinny's also has a kitchen serving up the usual bar food -- again, very affordable. Only cash is accepted, but there's an ATM located inside.

The patio outside had tables to sit at and an awning, but most people were lingering outside the doors having a smoke or chatting with friends.

By the end of the night, what started out as a nightcap had turned into a ton of laughs and a pocket full of change.

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Vinny's

2704 Clinton St., West Seneca

825-0837

Scene: Varies every night, with ages ranging from 20s to 50s.

Music: The buzz of sports on TV or jukebox hits.

Drinks: Bottled beer is the main attraction, plenty of decent-quality liquor.

Dress Code: No need to impress; comfort is key here.

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