CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Let Freebies Enhance, Not Dominate, Your Casino Visits

2 May 1994

Casinos have gone through three stages. They began as no-frills joints where bettors could gamble; restaurants and hotel rooms, if any, were for convenience and not comfort. Then they became playgrounds for the prosperous, lavishing the luxuries to romance high rollers. Now they're adult leisure and entertainment complexes affording us ordinary folks activity somewhere on the thrill-skill scale between TV viewing and sky diving, in an environment that can make you feel good about yourself if you give it half a chance.

Through this evolution has run the thread of subsidizing operating costs with gambling revenues. Where else can you relax in a posh lounge, watching first-rate live entertainment for the price of a $2 drink? Or savor a soup-to-nuts buffet for $5 or $10? But, lately, the subsidies have become synonymous with incentives freebies in the form of food, drink, lodging, and cash rewarding players for their gaming action.

If you're not getting bonuses where you enjoy playing, you're missing part of the casino experience. But, don't let the quest for a free lunch or roll of coins ruin your day.

Most casinos now have automated player rewards to the point where they're sometimes untouched by human hands. You shove a rating card into a reader at your slot machine, a computer tracks your action and calculates a bonus, and you go to a touch-screen terminal to collect. Table rating is similar, except that a floor supervisor keys the information into the computer.

I've often heard players say things like, "I lost $500, you owe me a better comp than the Food Court." And there's the inevitable, "Whadda ya mean, ya can't gimme a gore-may dinner? I always get one across the street." The fact is that while hosts and pit bosses can bend rules for frequent patrons or heavy losers who need cheering up, awards are calculated by the book. They have nothing to do with whether you actually won or lost. They're determined by a version of the same math the casinos use to figure what they should net on different games over the long term. If the casinos are good at anything, it's this particular arithmetic. So forget about beating the system out of a bigger bonus than your action merits; you'd be attacking the casinos where they're strongest.

Here's how rating works. The casino has an edge on every bet. Say for the game you prefer and the way you play it's 2 percent. This means that over an extended period, the casino should earn 2 percent on all the money bet by everyone who plays as you do. The profit potential you represent to the house is therefore 2 percent of your action. Maybe on a certain day, you placed a total of 300 $5 bets. Multiplying 300 by $5 means you put $1500 at risk. The casino's theoretical profit was 2 percent of $1500, or $30. Each casino's marketing policy sets the fraction of this amount offered to you as a patronage incentive. If it's 20 percent, you're credited with $6.

On this basis, you have four ways to boost your bonus: 1) make more bets, 2) make bigger bets, 3) play a game with more house edge, 4) go to a casino with a looser incentive policy. The first three make no sense whatever. The fourth is a judgement call, where you should balance bonuses against other factors that make you favor one place over another.

The best approach is to gamble prudently, taking whatever rewards your action warrants and not confusing the icing with the cake. As Sumner A Ingmark, poet laureate of the gambling guild, noted in his epic "Freebie-Jeebies" (no copies of which survived the tornado at his trailer park):

When you hear them boast, "it's free,"
It will cost the most, you see.

Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.