You’re likely to have mastered basic strategy for skill games such as video poker and blackjack if you consider yourself a skilled gambler. It’s difficult to beat the house if you aren’t playing well. Learning how to make the best moves at all times is key for advantage players who are skilled in skill games. Many talented players find themselves in the red year after year, due to the dreaded swings and variance or the “overhead costs” that come with serious gambling sessions.
Although the comps and other freebies offered by top casinos are a great help, it can be difficult to get past the hump and achieve profitability. Every casino gambler can benefit by another strategy that is specifically designed to take advantage casino comp programs.
Comps at casinos can be in many forms. They could come as free-play coupons that can be used on the machines or cashback rebates through the mail. There are even free nights, shows, and meals. To score comps, regulars used to have to make friends with pit bosses and dealers. But times have changed. Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are the two largest corporate owners of the casino industry. These two companies control almost all the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Below is a list of MGM-owned properties located in Sin City:
- ARIA Las Vegas
- Bellagio Las Vegas
- Excalibur Hotel & Casino
- Luxor Las Vegas
- Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
- MGM Grand Las Vegas
- The Mirage Las Vegas
- Monte Carlo Resort & Casino
- New York New York Hotel & Casino
Next are the Caesars-owned Las Vegas venues:
- Bally’s Las Vegas
- Caesars Palace
- The Cromwell Las Vegas
- Flamingo Las Vegas
- Harrah’s Las Vegas
- The LINQ Las Vegas
- Paris Las Vegas
- Planet Hollywood Las Vegas
- Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino
Customers are often left with the brunt of corporate consolidation. Caesars’ Total Rewards program tracks player activity and awards comps. MGM has the MLife program. To be “rated” by the casino, each player uses their Player’s Club Card. This can be done by either sliding it into a slot machine or video poker machine or by handing it to a dealer.
This rating is crucial for anyone hoping to get juicy comps. The casinos use a complicated formula to determine your “value”. You can’t make friends with pit bosses and rely on your regular status to score comps. Without your Player’s Club card, you won’t be eligible for any.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published an article in 2014 by Mark Gruetze that covered statistical data generated by casino hosts who oversee comp programs. Stephen R. Marshall, who is the senior vice president of relationships marketing at Fine Point Group-Gruetze’s Las Vegas-based gaming management consulting Fine Point Group-Gruetze, explained how comp rewards are calculated by casinos.
“Casinos assess players using statistics like average daily value (or how much the casino anticipates winning each day that a player visits) and cumulative value which tracks a player’s loss over several months, or even a year.
A player who plays a small amount but visits the casino often might have a low daily total but a high cumulative total.
Marshall recommends that casinos closely track the player’s actions to determine their value to them. Marshall suggests knowing the theoretical loss. This is calculated based on how many hours you play and the house edge. The actual loss, days played, and total trips are all factors.
Casinos can then identify their most valuable players, and offer comps to encourage them to return.
Take a look at the M Life rules and regulations to get an idea of how the intricate player tracking system works.
“Tier Credits are earned for almost every dollar that you spend, including gaming, across all M life Rewards Destinations. In Las Vegas, you earn 25 Tier credits per dollar; Beau Rivage, Gold Strike Tunica and MGM Grand Detroit earn 8 Tier credit per dollar.
You receive ten (10) Tier credits for each Base Point earned when you play slot games in Las Vegas M Life casinos. For every Base Point you earn, you will receive two (2) Tier credits when playing at Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Tunica. For every Base Point you earn at MGM Grand Detroit, one (1) Tier Credit is earned. You’ll receive Tier Credits for table games based on the length of play, average wager, and game type i>
The goal for M Life loyalists who are chasing comps is two-fold. You want Tier Points to help you climb up the M Life tiers and get more comps. Base Points are the second goal. These can be used at any authorized place just like cash. You can supplement your winnings and losses by taking advantage of the M Life or Total Rewards program, Station Casinos’ Boarding Pass program, or any other Player’s Club offering.
How can you get the best comp bang for your buck when gambling? You’ll find that casinos want players who fall into five categories if you go back to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review article about comp tracking data.
- Gamers who play often
- Gamblers who play big
- Gamblers who play long
- Gamblers who play badly
- House Games Gamers
These requirements don’t necessarily have to be met. A gambler who plays a lot can still win major comps, even if they aren’t there often enough. Comps will be awarded to a dedicated player who plays at low stakes, but puts in a lot of time. Players who meet all five thresholds are considered “whales” by a casino and receive the best comps. This can prove to be dangerous for some players as compulsive gambling can easily become compulsive.
Gruetze describes the dilemma faced by gamblers trying to get their full comp rewards:
Understanding what casinos want can make a difference for players.
Recognize the value you bring to the casino.
Don’t gamble more than your budget to be eligible for comps.
With this warning in mind, it is best to create a strategy for beating casino comp programs. It’s the same as with video poker or blackjack. These skill-based games are based on hard and fast mathematical truths. Players who know these truths can use them to win the game.
Casino comp programs are no different. So why not make strategic use of your strategic thinking to get an edge? Here’s a 5-step process that will help you avoid five common mistakes made by casinos when giving out comps. You can easily achieve a top rating which will allow you to receive the most generous comps by combining these five steps with your future gambling sessions.
1 – Casual couples make the perfect partnership for offsetting bets
To earn maximum comp rebates, the first step is to be rated by the casino. As you know, those who gamble often, especially on games with a high house advantage, get preferred treatment. Gambling with a partner is the best way to take advantage of this fact. You can choose to gamble with your spouse, significant other, or someone you just know who enjoys sharp gambling. The goal is to play together and use offsetting bets in order to offset one another’s losses.
Here’s how it works…
Binary bets are the best way to apply this strategy. These bets involve a win for one side and a loss for another. The roulette and craps tables can be a great place to start your comp hunting adventure. You can sit down at the roulette table with your partner, but you should keep your relationship private. They casino won’t notice that you are playing together. You don’t need to make small talk or celebrate, but act like complete strangers. You’ll be following a predetermined course of action, but in reality you will both be doing the same thing.
Your partner should place a bet on a binary bet such as black. You can switch sides and back red. Although you can switch between them, it is possible to alternate the bets – making your play random – but each side should always be on the opposite side of the wager.
You’ll get an even money payout when you win a spin on black. Your partner will lose their bet. You’ll lose if they win a double-up. You’ll be even on nearly every spin. The American roulette wheel has two green spaces (“00” and “0”), along with 36 red/black space, so you’ll lose 5.2 percent of the spins.
This is a perfectly acceptable risk rate for this gambit. You start with $400, and each partner will be able to wager $5 on black or red. You can expect to break even on 95 spins if you play 100 times, and lose both your bets on five other occasions.
You’d lose $50, but the casino rating system would label you as avid roulette players who enjoy gambling. The player tracking system is interested in knowing if you are willing to risk it all. Roulette has a 5.26 percent house edge and is considered one of the most dangerous games. You can play roulette for as little as $25 and your rating will increase with each spin.
Also Read: Here’s Why You Lose Money at the Casino
2 – The Pit Bosses Will Rate Your First Few Bets Only
Next, trick the casino into believing you are betting more than you actually are. This will increase your casino comp rating. Although it may seem risky in today’s “eye in the Sky” era, tricking the casino into thinking you bet more is actually much easier than many players think. A typical casino pit boss is a tall, powerful figure. These bosses are serious and stern and always look out for every table. The key phrase is “seems to”.
Most pit bosses are responsible for cruise control. They will circle around to inspect new players at the roulette table and check their betting amounts, but this only takes a few seconds. After two to three spins, most pit bosses will become restless and move to another table to start the process over again. The pit boss will mark you down in the computer for the amount that you bet during the initial spins.
This means that you should be ready to place bigger bets in the early stages of your session. You can increase the stakes by using four red chips, instead of $5 per spin. These wagers will offset 95 percent of the times, so you won’t be taking on more than you can afford. Your partner will take $20, and you might lose $20 immediately. However, your bankroll will be back to normal if your partner doubles their $20 stake.
You can keep betting $20 until you see the pit boss, then just dial back your betting to $5 per spin when all is well. You’ll be treated as a $20 betor by the casino for the rest of your time there.
3 – Blending in with the crowd by playing at a busy table
Comp ratings casinos also consider the length of your session. However, depending on your bankroll size, it can be risky to play for a long time. You can expect to make even on your offsetting bets at 95 percent, but that is simply mathematical expectation. Short-term swings of random variance, which most gamblers call “luck”, will cause some sessions to be cut short if the ball lands on “0”, or “00”.
Losing a night isn’t necessarily the worst thing, as the increased comps that you generate will compensate for those losses. You can avoid falling into this trap by not playing as much. Be on the lookout at crowded tables that seem to offer more excitement than others. You can sit there and watch the eight other players place bets at the craps or roulette tables, while you take a few minutes to enjoy the company of them.
You might take a bet on every third play or add a few breaks randomly. This strategy can be used in many ways, but the goal is to make it appear that you are playing for hours even though you aren’t actually wagering anything. Dealers will monitor the bets being placed so that they don’t focus on one player who didn’t win their bet.
You can’t just sit there and take up space, so you will need to be active. To get used to being around the dealer, I like to wager two to three times in a row. I will then reach out to pretend I am placing a chip stack, but I change my mind before they wave their hand.
As long as there is still a betting window open, it’s not a problem to pull your bets back. Roulette is where the dealer wave their hand and announces that there are no more bets. Make sure you have your chips back before this deadline. You can then resume betting on the fifth spin to make it appear that you were there the whole time. This process of skipping betting allows you to easily extend your session by adding an additional hour without taking on any extra risk.
4 – Go South and Gabbing Gives You the Loser’s Smile
Your ability to lose is another factor that casinos use to assess your comp prospects. This may actually be the most important factor used in comp calculation. Since casinos are not built on the backs winning players, their bread is toasted by long-term losers.
This is a problem for players who use the above offsetting bet partnership. The casino rating system will place you in the marginal category if you have alternating wins and losses, but are largely making even. This means that you will not receive the full lion’s share for big loser players, but a few comp rewards. When you leave the table, the pit boss will compare your current stack to your starting stack. You’ll be labeled a winner if you leave the table with more chips than you brought. Those who leave with the same stack will be identified as breakeven players.
If you don’t want to be called a loser, then every now and again, grab a few chips and place them in your pocket. This is called “going south” in the gambling world. While it’s frowned upon by the casino staff, it’s legal. You should conceal your activity as best you can, since the goal is to keep the casino in good standings. You can appear to be losing a lot of money if you keep going south, even though you have won offsetting bets.
Loudly announcing that you have lost is another way to make the pit bosses look at you as a loser. These offsetting bets will mean that you’ll lose roughly half of the time. Make a big deal about it. You won’t be noticed if you complain, as that is part of the casino culture.
5 – Get your cashback and free-play on the worst games
Last note: Casino comp programs are adamant that players don’t know the best games to play. Blackjack has a 0.50 percent house edge for basic strategy players. However, it rises to 5.26 percent when playing roulette. The house edge increases to 7 to 12 percent if you play at the slots.
Keep this in mind and use all free-play coupons you get on the slots. Your Player’s Club card can be safely stored in the slot machine. This will allow you to become a certified slot player even though you don’t have to risk any money. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your “whale” comp rating increases once the casino tags you as a slot spinner.
It can be very rewarding to beat the house in its own game. This is why many people enjoy skill games. Comp programs are the best way to beat the casinos when it really matters. You’ll never lose your comp rating no matter what the cards do. Your comp rewards will keep you in the black every day.