HOWTO: Boost your casino comps from your blackjack play

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UPDATE 8/27:
After receiving a fair amount of feedback from a few folks formerly from the casino industry, I wrote a follow up article here that corrects many of the items below. 

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ORIGINAL POST:  (Be sure to read the follow up here)
I’ve read various articles on the Internet about how to get comped at Las Vegas casinos and what to expect depending on what sort of play you have.  Most of the articles centered around a couple things:

  1. Average bet at the tables
  2. Length of time at the tables per day
  3. Number of days per trip
  4. The rules & the type of game played at the tables

Some things that I haven’t seen brought up are:

  • the amount that you’re willing to gamble
  • the amount you actually lose
  • the amount of money that you spend at the resort 

A lot of people I talk to tell me, “That has nothing to do with it.  The casinos are only interested in what your expected loss is based upon the house edge and the amount of time & money you play.  I’m sorry:  I know that’s true but there’s just got to be other elements that certain casinos use.  Casinos evolve and it seems to me that it would make sense that a casino would not just look at your play but also other elements of your stay because at the end of the day, its about making money. 

To support my point, I’m constantly told by every host to put everything on the room charge and a few have outwardly stated that they want to be able to value all my expenditures on the resort property.  Being that the cost of doing things other than gambling on the same casino property grows, like eating, going to the spa, attending a show, etc. doesn’t it make sense to factor these elements into a player’s overall worth to a resort?  And everyone knows that the pit boss constantly obsesses over your initial buy-in and the total amount you leave the table with. (a.k.a. “Hey buddy – let me color you up so you don’t have to walk around with all those chips!”)  Isn’t what you’re effectively willing to lose a factor in how a casino views you?  If you’re that liquid, you’re likely to spend more money that someone who doesn’t have that kind of coin.

More importantly, I’m just a $50-$100 avg bet player on any given blackjack game.  Sure my bet may sail to $400 at times but that’s uncommon.  If you calculate out the expected value that the casino gets from my play based on the game I’m playing over the time I play and, there is just no way I should be getting the offers that I do.  RFB… and a lot of free match play always comes my way.

So here’s a few things that could help boost your rating.  Honestly at one time or another I’ve done all of these EXCEPT #6, which was something that I’ve just seen recently and kinda got weirded out by.

  1. Go big for your first bet.
    This simple action can do so much to your rating.  Your first bet sets the pace.  This will likely be your rating level for a while even if you lower it and the pit boss reviews you play level again.  I usually bet $100 for my first bet, even if I’m at a $25 table.  Some folks think this is psycho but since my average play is $50-$100, this is simply on the high side of my average.
  2. Get good casino credit and always buy in with a marker.
    Wanna be memorable?  Ask for a marker and be sure to ask for a lot.  When the pit boss has to stop, validate your credit, see how high it is, then have you sign a check to close the transaction, you bet they’re going to know your name and remember how large you played.  Casino credit defines how much your willing to lose at the tables and your play is rated accordingly.  To apply for credit at any of these casinos, fill out the applications below:
    1. Wynn Credit:  http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/pdf/CasinoCreditApp-AgrmntPDF.pdf
    2. Venetian/Palazzo Credit:  https://secure.venetian.com/APPS/CreditApp/index.cfm
    3. Hard Rock Hotel Credit:  http://www.hardrockhotel.com/las-vegas/casino/pdfs/HRHCreditApp11.pdf
    4. Bellagio Credit:  https://secure02.mgm-mirage.com/marker/default.asp?CO=190
  3. Take care of your dealer.
    You always want to be the generous one at the table without killing your stack.  Your dealer controls a lot of things contrary to popular belief.  They control who plays at the table and who’s being offensive enough to “boot”.  The can raise the minimum bet at the table and they can mistakenly allow two hands to be played without requiring twice the bet.  They control where the cut card is placed in the deck.  They control how much is reported when you “color in” and walk away from the table.  The pit boss will even often ask the deal what your average bet was throughout your play if they weren’t watching carefully during busy times. 

    And this last thing is they may not be able to control the cards, but they can control whether or not the atmosphere in which you’re playing is a pleasant and courteous one, or a nasty and belligerent one.  No one likes a dealer that snickers when you lose or messes around when a dealer bust is the difference between the table’s happiness or sadness.

  4. Bill everything to your hotel room
    Besides allowing you the opportunity to have items comped by a host, billing everything to your hotel room like restaurant bills & spa massages allows you to total up the amount you are spending at the resort.  If you’re a $50 player that plays 8 hours on a six deck blackjack game, your total expected loss to the casino will be anywhere from $200 to $400 dollars for the whole trip.  But if you go to a restaurant where the casino makes 2% on restaurant revenues, you can add to this every time you eat by increasing your total spend at the resort.

    I don’t really know how much this affects your over all rating, or if it even does in a given casino, but what I can say is that it’s been hinted toward by many casino hosts that I’ve run into.  And judging by the fact that I tend to spend a LOT on restaurants, spas, shows, and resort amenities, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t hurt.

  5. Stash chips
    I hesitated to mention this because casinos really frown on this practice although I’ve seen it done in a lot of the cheaper casinos, but basically, this is the principle of pulling chips off the table (a.k.a. “ratholing”) and implying a higher loss or smaller gain than what was really obtained by the player.  For example, if the player loses a lot – say $1000 – in a single hour with a supposed average bet of $25 per bet as recorded by the pit boss, that implies that the dealer dealt a measly 40 hands and the player lost every single one of them.

    Not frickin’ likely.  What was more likely the story was that the average bet of the player, assuming he really lost $1000, was that he bet closer to $50-$75 a hand and crapped out in just an hour of play.  But they can only calculate that on the basis of how much you purportedly lost.  And if you’ve taken chips off the table, your total loss or potentially your average bet is much higher.  And that affects your rating – all while you really have a bunch of chips stashed away.

    Note that this is irrelevant if you play at an RFID enabled table.  See #6 below for an explanation.

  6. Cash out, and buy in again
    Now this is something that I haven’t done but it certainly is unusual and it’s apparently effective enough that the casinos seem to be concerned.  It was explained to me by a dealer only a couple days ago who I was playing heads-up with for a while that I had toked quite a bit… and because the woman next to me was doing it to an extreme – so much so that I noticed it.

    Basically the idea of this technique is that you rathole chips from the table and then, when you take a “bathroom break”, you cash out the chips you’ve hoarded and on your return to the table, you buy-in with the supposedly “new” cash.  This artificially raises your total buy-in and skews your play rating.  Note that this is useless for casinos that have RFID tables being that they know exactly how much you’ve got on the table at any given time based on radio feedback and electronics within the chips used by the casino.  If you take chips off the table, they know you’ve ratholed something.

    So how do you know if you’re at an RFID table?  I’ve noticed that usually the arm rests get unusually warm in odd places.  Wynn is like this.  And there’s usually a pin hole in the faces of the chip’s plastic to reveal a tiny amount of metal to allow unfettered emission of the passively induced RF signal.  Also, if you want a true test, simply bring a basic strategy card and lay it on the table.  It’s allowed in most casinos, except for those with tables with RFID and if the dealer or the pit boss tells you to pick it up… well, there you go.  I believe the casinos are concerned about the card blocking the RFID signal in the surprising event the card is made of a thin layer of metal somehow designed to reflect the RFID signal or something.

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