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