21. Casino Comps
Whether you chose to become a rated player at the casino table games, join a slot club or both, once you get into the system, you can start getting your share of comps. There are a number of tried and proven ways to multiply the number of comps you get. Here are some pointers.
Chose a primary casino and then play there
A basic premise of the whole comp system is to reward loyal players. LIVE casinos offer comps to lure new players to their casino and to make sure that their current customers remain their customers. If you think you have it tough trying to use the comp system to your advantage, just think what the casinos are up against with new competition springing up every day.
If you are a whale, you can ignore my advice. Just plan on either bringing or setting up a credit line of $100,000 or larger, and wherever you decide to land will be glad to comp you. If you are in the million dollar plus range, the casino will not only comp you, but anyone else you chose to bring with you. They'll even charter a 737 and fly in as many of your friends as you want to bring along.
If you are not quite in this range, then it will pay to find a primary casino and reward it with your patronage. A player with as little as $1,000 can get RFB treatment in some of the downtown casinos in Las Vegas. A player with a $2,500 bankroll will have an even greater choice of hotel casinos. Move up to the $5,000 to $10,000 range, and a whole other batch of casinos become available.
But, in order to get noticed and adequately comped with a bankroll from $1,000 to $10,000, you have to be willing to reward a casino with your playing time.
A friend of mine visits Las Vegas about ten times a year. He usually takes $5,000 to $10,000 and manages to lose between half and three quarters of it per trip. I won't comment on his approach to gambling. Quite frankly, it stinks. Anyway, the subject is comps.
Believe it or not, he doesn't get any. He stays at a different casino every trip. I think he believes the constant changes might improve his luck. This is not necessarily bad, if he would play at the casino where he stays. He invariably changes casinos every hour or two and ends up playing in ten to twelve different establishments over the course of two or three days. Because of the size of his buy-ins, he is constantly asked if he wants to be rated. He always declines. He confesses that he doesn't want the casinos to know how much he is losing. I think that he is trying to kid himself about his losses.
I have explained the comp system to him. As long as he is losing, he might as well have the casinos kick in $750 to $1,000 per trip. This money is there for the asking if he would only pick a primary casino and give it a reasonable amount of play.
I can't convince him to change his ways. But, maybe I can influence you.
There are many other benefits to playing more in a primary casino.
The first benefit is the application of the old saw, "If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." The casino will accelerate the rewards offered you the more you play. Some casinos formalize this process and actually accelerate the comps to slot club members as their total number of points increases. Many casinos offer more and more free rooms and entertainment the more you patronize them.
The key to maximizing your benefits from this whole process is to find a casino that matches your needs and then start playing there. If you have picked correctly, your loyalty will be well rewarded.
Join a slot club and/or get a VIP card
The start of getting comps is to be into the casino comp system. If you bet $25,000 a hand, the host will find you. If you bet $5 to $25 a pop, you have to get the casino's attention. And the easiest way to do this is with a little piece of plastic which looks just like a credit card.
Once you have a card, getting comped will become part of your routine. The first thing you will do as a machine player is to insert your club card in the card reader.
When you sit down at a craps, blackjack or roulette table you will present your VIP card when you buy in. Your card will go down with your cash at the roulette table when you lay five hundred in front of the dealer and tell him, "Chips please."
Once you have the cards and use them, all of your play will count towards something.
Get to know the casino personnel
When my wife and I walked into the casino at the Desert Inn, we knew we were home. Every cocktail waitress knew us. The dealers in the craps pit recognized us. As we walked up to a craps table, a couple of bosses we knew came over. Before five minutes had passed, our favorite cocktails arrived - without us even ordering them! The table was crowded, and a dealer automatically cleared a spot for us at the end of the table, my favorite spot for playing craps.
When we finally took a break, we walked over to our favorite coffee shop in Las Vegas. A waitress we had known for years smiled as she walked up to our table. We asked about her son who had just graduated from high school. She chatted happily as she sat our coffees down, which she had brought over without even consulting us.
After dinner we stopped by VIP Services for our show passes. As usual, Lynda had everything in perfect order. She had even arranged for special drinks to be delivered to our table.
After a perfect evening, we watched the lights on the Frontier marque across the street put on their endless show from the vantage point of our room. We had a lot of memories associated with the Desert Inn. We had watched the downtown Fourth of July fireworks from our room one year. Another year, we had a rude awaking at 3:00 in the morning as the fire alarm started screaming and the hall was filled with guests in various stages of dress and undress. Fortunately it was a false alarm. I called downstairs, and the friendly night clerk told me that they were having a problem with the alarm system, but there was no fire.
There are many newer casinos than the Desert Inn. It is now defunct and has been torn down. It had one of smallest casino playing areas in Las Vegas. There were many larger casinos.
There are several of the "themed" casinos which offer many more attractions than the old DI.
There were no pirates in the Desert Inn. No sharks swam in the lobby. There was no Statute of Liberty out front. No knights ran around the floor smiling at customers. Cleopatra had no barges floating in the simple old DI.
You might wonder why I liked to stay here. But I think you know the answer. I was known here. Because they knew me, I felt appreciated. I have played in just about every casino in Las Vegas and a good number of other casinos around the country. But for pure service, I prefered the old DI.
Please don't consider this a commercial for the Desert Inn. It's gone now anyway. Any casino can become your Desert Inn once you invest a little time and get to know the people who work there.
Most casino employees are not a whole lot different than other people you already know. Just give them a chance to know you, and you'll be surprised at the good things they'll throw your way.
Get to know your casino host
The casino host or the slot host will be your key to getting the most comps in most casinos.
If you are a member of the casino's slot club, you will get nearly all of your comps by asking the casino slot host. Many times comps for food, rooms, shows and merchandise are built right into the slot club payoffs. If you have just joined a slot club, try giving them some play for an hour or two and then asking the slot host for a buffet comp.
My experience with comps from playing slots or video poker is that the slot hosts are much more likely to be generous with comps than the personnel at the slot club booths. If you want brochures on the slot clubs or general information on the slot club, talk to the clerks at the booth. If you want a particular comp, ask the slot host.
Casino hosts, catering to the table game players, are at the top of the casino pecking order for granting comps. Their top priority is to cultivate new customers and to keep the current customers happy.
The casino hostesses are the persons working for VIP Services who help you check in, arrange your limo service, make dinner and show reservations and so forth.
The hostesses will handle most of your scheduling and reservation needs. The casino hosts are the people you need to talk to to arrange RFB and airfare reimbursement.
You can meet a casino host a number of ways. One way is to call a casino before coming and ask to speak to a host. This is a good way to ask about the casino's comp policy and to tell the host that you are interested in playing there.
If you are playing with front money, you should meet your host after depositing your money with the cage but before you begin play.
If you are a cash player and make a large enough buy-in, you may have a chance to meet a host when the casino sets you up with a VIP card.
After you have played in a casino, you can make reservations through the casino host. Making a reservation through a host who knows you is a good way to get a room even if the front desk claims that no rooms are available. Casinos always reserve a block of rooms for their best customers, and a casino host can get you a room when a reservation clerk can't.
I recommend taking a little time to develop a relationship with a host. Part of developing a relationship is consistency. If you make one casino your primary casino and visit several times a year, it will be easier to become known to a host than if he only sees you every other year.
If you are using a casino credit line, the host will introduce himself to you. With front money or cash, you will want to make a point of meeting the host.
Treat your host with respect and nurture the relationship. He can shower you with all kinds of freebies, including gifts, food, a free room and VIP treatment. And he is paid to do this. For your part, you have to convince your host that your action is sufficient to justify the comps you want. And being a nice person won't hurt either.
Be a nice person
Or have I said that? You can get enormous leverage out of maintaining friendly relationships with the people who work in casinos.
Start with the dealers and cocktail waitresses. These people have a couple of the hardest jobs in the casino and are at the bottom of the casino hierarchy. A smile and a reasonable tipping policy will do wonders to get these folks on your side. I believe that creating a positive atmosphere starts with how you act towards the casino personnel. A positive atmosphere is conducive to winning as well as to getting your fair share of comps.
You might look at it this way. If you are a grump, the dealer will probably reciprocate. This is contagious behavior, and soon the whole table will act the same way. The pit personnel not only will not be impressed with your play, they probably will be put off by the whole scene at your table. Not only will your rating likely suffer, you won't have nearly as much fun.
You can't always control how dealers and other customers act. If I join a table where no one is talking, and the dealer barely grunts when spoken to, I will make my departure very quickly. Usually a few cheerful words followed by a toke for the dealer will turn the atmosphere around. However, if this fails, you can't be faulted for not trying. Life is too short to play under miserable conditions.
It is always better to change tables than to continue to play with an out of sorts crew and crabby complaining customers. Under these conditions, you should just leave.
Visit the casino at off times
I nearly always schedule my casino trips for the middle of the week. I will typically arrive on a Monday afternoon and stay until Thursday afternoon. The benefits of visiting during the week are many. If there are any drawbacks to avoiding the weekend crowds, I haven't found them.
I don't like waiting and I hate lines. By timing my visits to the middle of the week, I can usually walk into any coffee shop, make reservations for a gourmet restaurant just about any time I chose and get show tickets to the shows I want to see.
If you want to really reduce the size of the crowds, travel in the middle of the week during off season. Las Vegas is slower during the middle of summer when it is hot and in the late fall and early winter when it's colder. The slowest time in Vegas is usually between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But watch out for conventions. The Comdex is usually in town in November. Then it's impossible to get a room (unless you are a rated player or belong to a slot club).
If you like to visit Atlantic City, try visiting during the middle of the week in the dead of winter. You'll not only avoid the larger crowds, but you'll find that the minimum wagers on many tables have been reduced.
Visiting during an off time is also an excellent way to get noticed for purposes of getting rated and getting your comp career off to a roaring start.
With fewer players to contend with, a host or a floorman is easier to meet and to visit with. Also, during slow times, casinos tend to be more generous with comps. After all, they are more likely to have a slew of vacant rooms just waiting to be given away to qualified players on a Wednesday night in December.
Ask for comps
If you play $10,000 a hand at LIVE Dealer baccarat, you do not have to ask for comps. The casino will shower you with them. If you are like the rest of us wagering anywhere from $5 to several hundred a hand, you need to ask for comps.
Slot players have the more systematic approach as the card readers on the machines are tied into a centralized computer system, and comps are based on points. If you are a slots or video poker player, getting a comp is pretty straight forward with this system.
Table game players have to deal more with people. And unless you are a whale, a boss will almost never offer you a comp unless you have just won big in a smaller casino which watches every loss. Facing a player who might walk out with their money in hand, some casinos will start throwing comps at the player. But most of the time, even rated players can play and play and never be offered a comp unless they ask for it.
My advice? Always ask for the comp. I have given you several examples of how to do it.
Maximize your comps
Anyone who follows the steps I have described can get comps.
Your first step is to pick your primary casino and give it most of your business. Before you pick your casino you want to make sure that the casino has a reasonable comp policy and that it has beatable games. You should also like the casino as you will be receiving a lot of invitations there once you get into their comp system.
After picking your primary casino, you need to join its slot club and get a VIP card. I usually do both. Some casinos, like Rio in Las Vegas, combine rating slot, video poker and table players on one card. Others track machine and table action separately.
However, it usually pays to join the slot club, even if you are mostly a table game player.
In many ways, slot club players have an advantage over the table game players. Their rating is automatic, they don't have to get the attention of some boss. By joining the slot club, they start receiving mailing from the casino. I have received offers of free rooms from casinos where I had never played a slot machine, but had joined their slot club.
If you are just establishing your rating and want to get a room on a crowded weekend, your slot club membership can be invaluable.
After the reservation clerk tells you there are no rooms available, tell her you are a member of the slot club or ask to speak to a slot host. Chances are, the casino will find a room for you. Getting to know the casino personal is critical. The more the casino personnel know and like you, the more comps are likely to flow your way. This is even true for slot players with their automated rating system. A slot host can easily "bump up" your comp from a buffet for two to a coffee shop comp for two, even if your rating is not quite there.
With table players, interacting with the pit personnel is critical. A boss can make or break you in terms of your rating. If your average wager is $25, your goal is to be rated as at least a $50 to $75 player. It is not enough to increase your wagers when the boss is looking, you need to be a nice person.
Playing with front money gives the casino a real shot at beating you. When you deposit the money in the cage, the casino knows that they have a shot at winning all of your front money. If you are willing to risk $10,000, this will open the door to full RFB at most establishments.
When you play with front money, be sure to put it all in play. If you deposit $10,000, draw markers for the full ten grand. This doesn't mean you should lose the money. If you look like a loser and the casino sees that you have put all of your front money into play, your rating will increase.
Remember to look like a loser. You can save your bragging for when you get home. Appear to lose, but lose gracefully. Dealers and bosses hear players gripe about losing every day. Look like a loser but don't complain.
If you run into a fantastic winning streak, don't worry about disguising the fact that you are a winner. The bosses will know that you are winning. If you try to hide enough chips to turn a big win into a loss, they'll know. When you have a big win, act like a winner. Go ahead and tip a little more. If you are playing craps, shouting is not out of line. I have had some of my best comps come out of big wins as casinos hate to see winners walk out the door with their money.
Once you know how to play the comps game, you will be able to milk the casinos for every dime your action entitles you to. I have given you some pointers on how to get a quarter's worth of comps for a dime's worth of action.
When you combine getting the maximum number of comps with the Maximum Advantage Roulette Strategy, you are in the best position to maximize your profits from casino gambling.
If you at least break even, then the comps you receive constitute a profit for your play. If you are able to win money at the casino games, then your profit will be even greater.