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How to get Casino Comps

Dear Mark,
I heard you on a radio show talking about getting comps, and one of your suggestions was to call a casino host and ask what type of action was needed to warrant, as you said; "getting some goodies."

So, I called a casino host and asked how much I would need to play in order to get both a dinner for two in their steak house, and possibly a buffet for two. She said that I would need to "put in action" at least $5,000 to warrant the free meals. I'm not that big of a player. Don't you think that betting that amount is a bit unrealistic when all I'm asking for is a couple meals? - Peter T.

Whoa, Pete, all that the casino you called wanted was for you to blow into town with some of your hard-earned money, and not necessarily five large, and they'd like a crack at it.

What the host meant by "put in action" was NOT the actual dollar amount of money you were to bet per hand, nor even the amount you are supposed to bring to the table with a "Gamble" ear tag on it.

For instance, suppose that you sat down at a blackjack table with $500 and proceeded to play 100 hands an hour over, say, three hours, betting $20 on each hand. Now multiply 100 hands, times three hours, by $20, and it totals $6,000. This would be the amount of money you "put in action," even though your actual bankroll was just $500.

This is but one criterion a casino would use to assess your rating and eligibility for comps. The joints I worked in had sort of the same formula to figure out what you're worth. To get your goodies from us, we also wanted you to bet a decent chunk of change for a calculated stretch of time, but we based your RFB's merit (Room, food and beverage) on what you were probably going to lose.

We considered your average bet, how many hours you were possibly going to play, speed of the game, and the casino advantage. This, in theory, computes essentially your expected loss to us over a certain period.

Again, suppose you are betting $20 a hand for three hours, averaging 100 hands per hour, coupled with a house advantage of five percent the casino holds over the average blackjack player, we could predict in advance that you should lose $300 ($20 X 3 hrs. X 100 hands X .05 = $300) of the $6,000 wagered, or as she said, "put in action," over that time period. That free trip to the chow line was really going to cost you $300.

Dear Mark,
On a Field bet on a crap table, some casinos pay 2-1 if a 12 rolls, others pay 3-1. How much of a difference is there in the house edge between the two? - James D.

A Field bet is a wager that the next roll of the dice would turn up a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or a 12. This one-roller pays even money for 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11, and usually pays 2:1 for either 2 or 12. Some casinos pay 3:1 for either the 2 or 12, but not both.

When the casino pays 2-1 on the 12, the house edge is 5.56 percent. If they pay 3-1, the casino advantage is reduced to 2.78 percent. Either way, both advantage levels are far higher than the 1.41 percent edge on a pass line wager or 1.4 percent on the Don't pass, so, James, I'm recommending neither.

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Gambling Quotes

  • "Life is a gamble, like crossing the road. One day chicken, next day feathers."- Unknown

  • "Having an ATM in a casino is like having a lap-dancer at a Hell's Angels Convention. - McAvoy Layne

  • "Gambling has held human beings in thrall for millennia. It has been engaged in everywhere, from the dregs of society to the most respectable circles."- Peter L. Bernstein

  • Besides lovemaking and singing in the shower, there aren't many human activities where there is a greater difference between a person's self-delusional ability and actual ability than in poker.- Steve Badget

  • "Betting is the only moral thing you can do. It is an intellectual pursuit, as good as The Times crossword. For millions, it is the only uninfluenced democratic decision they take."- Lord Wyatt

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