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

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Posted by Chuckmonster

Another factor that may be included in the equation is the skill of the player (do they play basic strategy or are they a puss and stand on soft 17s, never double or split and mysteriously stand on 13s-15s against strong dealer hands.)

Here's a theoretical example:

You're a $100/hand blackjack player who plays a 6-deck game for about 2 hours a clip 4 times per day over 3 days. Blackjack averages 60 hands per hour and since you don't know basic strategy at all, the house advantage is approximately 1.5% (better play decreases the house advantage).

$100 x 60 = $6000 Action Per Hour
$6000 x 1.5% (0.015) = $90 x 2 hours x 4 sessions x 3 days =
$2160 expected drop per visit

Of course this dosen't take into account the penchant for gamblers to: get drunk, play stupid, bet two hands, not double down, double down poorly, and most importantly, barnstorm the tables until their stake is burned or the inverse - lucky streaks, good cards and positive appearance of the right random numbers on slot machines. Add into the equation other monies the player is going to drop on their trip (shopping, non-comped food, show tickets, room service poontang) and casino marketing will get a good idea what kind of level a given player is going to perform at. (Let's say they know that the player's significant other dosen't gamble but loves to blow money at the Forum Shops - this gets factored into the equation as well.)

The same equation works for all games with the only variable changeouts being Rate of Play and Expected House Advantage.

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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!


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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