The Hand on the Hand In The Cookie Jar : The Math of Casino Comps

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Posted by Chuckmonster

So you take five weekend trips to Vegas each year, play long and hard at $10-25 minimum blackjack tables, hand your comp card over to the pit boss religiously and you always gamble in the same joints. Then one evening you get home from a tough day toiling on the computer at work and there's a message on your answering machine.

"Hey Johnnie, how's it goin? This is Frankie Sands, casino host at the Deserted Inn. I see you haven't been to town in a while and for being a big player we'd like to set you up with a nice suite for a weekend in July with the works. Gimmie a call when you get in or I'll try you again tommorow. My number is seven - oh - two, seven - nine - four - eighty - two - hundred. Gimmie a call bro... ciao!"

Immediately, thoughts of a plush marble-floored room with a vestibule, multiple bedrooms, bear skin rugs, a gold plated harpsichord, and a solid gold commode dance in your head like cherries on a slot machine. These thoughts are followed by visions of a full-blown sunken spa orgy, endless champagne, tuxedos, private jets and room service bills on par with Raoul Duke all completely gratis courtesy of your brand new best friend Frankie Sands. Maybe even Steve Wynn hiz-self will tuck you in and Siegfried and Roy will kiss you goodnight on all four of your cheeks simultaneously.

Why not... you've earned it. All those hours of steady basic strategy play - with the exception of standing on soft 17s - cause you're a puss. The casino's number crunchers fed your ID into the mainframe and they decided that they want YOU to enjoy that $1-10k/night suite. Today is your lucky day... you are now an RFB'er (room, food and beveridge - sometimes seen with an "S" for shows). A-fucking men.

Of course, it dosen't work like that. With the kind of action you're giving them, you'll be lucky to get much more than show tickets or a comped meal - depending on where you're playing, the action you give may mean more or less to the number crunchers. Casino marketing works on relatively rigid mathematical formulas which can be sometimes enhanced by greasing a casino host with good vibes and courteousnes - which means don't be a dickwad to the dealer or pitbosses. The pit boss has the authority to sign a slip for your next meal.

Most casinos guard their player development algorigms tightly, but they all pretty much follow the same type of equations. The player development algorithm gives the casino an idea of how much action the player is going to give the casino over time and what type of profits they can expect based on that players betting level, game choice and the amount of time spent at the tables.

In every player, the casino sees a big juicy wad of cash. Being the snakes that they are, its only natural for the neon anaconda to desire a big honkin bite out. Players dangle cash, the snake dangle rooms, lobsters and Tony Bennett tickets. The real victory in the player/cobra dichotomy isn't breaking even or even winning a coupla hundred bucks - the real victory is an accross-the-board RFB&Show comp in addition to doubling or tripling your stake at the tables. With the right attitude, study and knowledge of how the game beyond the game are played, you too can get decent level comps and come home with a little extra folding green stuffed into your pockets.

So how exactly do casinos calculate who gets a comp and who dosen't? In fact, it's merely yet another numbers game that proves once again that there was a reason why you took that damned algebra class in junior high school. First of all, to become a "rated" player, you must share with the casino some information about yourself... phone number, address, name etc.. They get this information when you register for a "Comp" or "Slot Card". Once the casino knows who you are, they begin compiling information about your playing, betting, game choice and visiting patterns. After enough information has entered the database on your playing habits and these habits raise a "flag" in the database (the numbers add up to a given watermark), the casino's player development computer programs generate a ballpark number of how much cash of yours they can expect to win if you're invited to town for a given amount of time. Once your personal profile is "flagged", the casino marketing accountants (or a simple computer program) will calculate what the expected revenue for a given trip will be minus their costs (RFB, show tickets, limos, airfare, on up to private jets, jacuzzis filled with jello, flying in a cook from Bangkok to feed you, room service poontang to every other unimaginable eccentricity). The computer program then spits out a form letter (or email) with some sort of offer based on your level of play, and it automatically gets sent off to you.



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Comments & Discussion


That was a great article and very informative. Here's what I just learned from a host at MGM Grand. I'm heading there in two days and decided to call ahead and ask for a host. I said that I wanted to understand what kind of play they were looking for to get decent comps. And he said to really be considered for anything worthwhile, he would want to see action at a 50 dollar blackjack table for at least four hours a day. And that falls right in line with what you've written. And here's why I wanted an explanation from the host. I'm from Massachusetts and play almost every week at the two Indian casinos in Connecticut (Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun). Both casinos have a great comp system -- I find it easier to understand than Vegas and much more lucrative. It's basically a cash back deal at both places. After you've finished a session, the pit boss rates your card right away with a dollar figure -- points that you can use immediately for anything in the casino -- food, drink, room, etc. And they seem to be more generous than Vegas. For example, if I play four hours of craps at a ten dollar table, with about 60 dollars in chip on the table for each roll, I can usually expect 40 to 50 points right away. When I'm hitting numbers and winning big, it goes up. I once had a one-thousand dollar win at Mohegan in about two hours and got 90 points right away. Of course, they didn't want me to leave, so they probably figured, "give him some points, he'll go eat a fat steak and come back and lose the money." In fact, I ate the big fat steak and went home. A week later, I got a mailer offering me a half-rate room. They clearly wanted their thousand dollars back!

deltacape

I know one of the 'comp strategies' is to concentrate your play at one joint. That drives me nuts, I like to move around -- especially if I'm getting killed somewhere or they're sending in the coolers too frequently.

Regarding comps, I've never had a PB come up to me during play and say "hey, dinner is on us. here ya go". Not even after 8-hour marathon craps sessions. I just don't think it happens that much. However, I do visit the host before checking out and ask about my comps. I usually get 'FB', and a couple of nights free or at the least reduced rate.

This is one advantage I see as a result of industry consolidation. Because I use, say, my MGM players card in multiple places to accumulate points, I receive decent comps without having to park my ass in one place for a weekend.

Can't get much at The Wynn. Initially, when it first openned, I was told they were not to consider anyone's play at BJ under $75.00 a hand. At $75-$100 a hand-I usually stay 5 days, I might as well be happy and just buy my own tunafish sandwich, room, and knock down my play to $15-$25. We were there w/ my sons for 8 days, average play was $40x4hrs. daily. They knocked off $328. at the end. Ya know, go buy your own sandwich. We had 2 rooms, a Penthouse suite, and resort room. I guess that is definately figured in. So, that's the story at Wynn. I just don't like the MGM properties, although they still send me 3 day free promos from all the yrs. I stayed at The Mirage and Bellagio. I'm fussy, and just keep following Wynn around. Those beds-wow- the best.

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