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Shut Up And Take My M Life Card

By JohnH on Thursday, 12th July 2012 11:30pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 32


I love blackjack. I don't love it as much as Blackjacker1979 does, but I love me some blackjack. I love it so much that I've taken the time to read Beat the Dealer - purchased directly from the VegasTripping Library--can keep a casual hi-lo count while playing, and on most days, can grind out a tidy profit while playing the game.

I also love it so much that I know that nearly every casino in Las Vegas won't rate you until you start playing an average of $25 per hand. And therein lies a dilemma. I love the game and the associated feeling of handing over a players' club card when I sit down at a table, but I also love playing an average of $15 per hand. And I know that when I do that, I probably won't be rated. But when I sit down at a $15 table at Wynn or Encore, the pit boss takes my card, slides it through the table-mounted computer terminal, and wishes me good luck. When I play at Caesars, the pit boss does the same. I know they're not rating me, but I also know that they're indulging in order to welcome me. When I play at Cosmo, they do the same--although that may be more the result of some misplaced hipster irony than an attempt to welcome me.

And then there are the MGM Resorts International properties. During my last trip, I played at three of their hotels and received nearly the same-yet-escalating-in-terms-of-assholery reaction to my handing over an Mlife card at each one of them. To wit, shortly after sitting down at Aria, a pit boss saddled up next to me and said, "Mr. H, we only rate guests when they play $25 per hand. If you reach that point, call me over and I'll be happy to start rating you. Until then, here's your card." It wasn't a tactless remark, but it was one that made me feel like my patronage was unappreciated at best and unwelcome at worst.

Things got worse at The Mirage. When I sat down at the table with a sizable amount of cash and my Mlife card, a surly, mannish female pit boss stood on the other side of the table, looked at the limit sign, and yelled at me, "Sir, you do know that I won't rate you until you bet $25 a hand, don't you?"

"I do," I replied.

"So are you going to bet $25 a hand?"

Slightly frustrated--but not so much that I wanted to let my snark flag fly--I said, "Well, here's hoping I work my way up there."

"Well call me over when you do," she replied. Read: "Fuck off, asshole."

And then there was Bellagio. Again, I sat down with a bit of cash and handed over an Mlife card, but when the pit boss walked over this time, there was no snide remark. There was only a glance at my card, a slow look at my bet, and then an even slower saunter over to the next table. I was so frustrated that I colored up and left.

During each of those encounters, I just wanted to let my frustration rip and ask these assholes if they would really like me to take my money and play somewhere else. Do you really think Jimbo's doing a good enough job of running your company that you can afford to turn your nose up at customers? More to the point, how did taking three minutes to argue with me save more time than sliding my card and saying nothing?

And that really hits at the heart of the problem. These people seem to have forgotten what it is their job is all about. So, pit bosses of MGM Resorts International's astounding, photoshopped world, allow me to remind you: You are, first and foremost, agents of customer service. Yes, your job duties include protecting the games to which you're assigned and ordering fills, but at the end of the day, you're the host of this table game party. You're the ones who should be rooting for us when we're winning and consoling us when we've lost. You should be the ones who bend over backwards to make sure we're as comfortable as possible. You should be making us feel as welcome as possible. And you should ensure that we keep wanting to hand over our hard-earned monies to your mediocre casino. Taking thirty seconds to scan a card goes a long way in achieving that goal. Remember that.

Now shut up and take my Mlife card.

Tagged: rant   blackjack   comp clubs   pit boss   mirage   cosmo   wynn   mirage   bellagio   mlife   murren   


Comments & Discussion:

I agree with your assessment re. the hospitality element. They should be sufficiently warm and polite as to take the mLife and scan the card.

That said, I THINK the reason they tell you "no rating until $25" is more about disclosure than about hostility. They have so many tourists in Vegas that they are used to the fact sub-green-chip bettors probably aren't familiar with the "no rating until you play at $25" policy.

That said, they should be more diplomatic about it, or at least disclose it in a more polite manner.

What really bugs me is that they still bother telling me this when I hand them my Gold card. I understand I'm not Platinum/Noir yet, but I don't exactly spend a ton at their properties so the majority of that status came from gaming and they can see that right there on their screens.

I honestly thought that maybe switching over to tiered cards was a way to cue pit bosses to do the bare minimum at their job. Apparently not.

I totally understand your frustration, JohnH. The last time I went to Vegas I was at Mirage and not only got the "we won't rate you until you bet $25", but I also had the added perks of having my card tossed back in my direction. Love your job, mr. pit boss?

One thing though - and very confusing - sometimes they still take my mlife card when I'm playing $10 blackjack and punch something into the computer, but don't give me the "you have to bet $25" warning. Are they actually rating me? Or just playing solitare on their touch screens while holding my card? In fact, during one session I lost $200 at a $10 limit table. The pit boss was busy and the dealer was getting some legendary cards, so my $200 didn't last more than 30 minutes. However, the pit boss said "I'll credit you for the 200 and your time". So was I rated? Confusing...

If, as stated by StudiodeKadent, this is something they have to disclose, there are certainly better ways to do it. My suggestion is that they add a notice to the table limit display indicating players only will be rated at $25 or above.

I am still surprised that they didn't log you into the system, regardless of bet size. Even for low-limit players, I would think they would want to know who is at the table, and for how long you are there, as this data can still be used to market you room discounts, etc. With a share price under $10, MGM should be hustling to generate as much business and customer goodwill as possible.

For the casual player, the entire rating system is a mystery at table games. You couldn't be more right about the pit bosses. Not only are they frustrating with rating, but I love when I drop a couple of hundred on the table and have to wait for the pit boss to acknowledge the money. The dealer looks frustrated and the pit boss just shrugs at the small amount of money on the table. One day at Bellagio I finally had a frustrated dealer tell me how much she hated how dealers and pit bosses treated lower bettors. She said the casinos job was to make players feel appreciated and to actually encourage them to win money. She said that way the dealers do better with tips and the casino does better. She should be the new MGM CEO.

While I agree that this is a potential customer service issue, and I am normally an advocate for anything that favors players, I can see this argument from both sides. From the floor person's perspective, remember that the computer doesn't just track the player - it also knows who the floor person is. If they have been told by their evil overlords that $25 is the minimum rating, and they track you at $15, they are leaving indisputable forensic evidence that they are consistently disobeying their employer's orders. That may make it into performance reports, and could negatively affect their future.

The main reason that casinos don't want to rate smaller play is that the next logical step is for that player to go ask a host for comps. A $15 player won't qualify for anything - not even a buffet for one person - at a major strip property (using standard strip BJ rules, $15 play is worth about $4.50/hr profit to the casino, of which they would be willing to return approximately about $1/hr in comps regardless of actual win or loss). At the same time, they may have lost what they consider to be a large amount of money, and are then going to feel slighted by the host and the property when they ask for something. So, if you are the type of player that wants to be rated and plays at less than $25 at a strip property, odds are that you are going to leave the property feeling negative about it one way or another. That being the case, I think it's preferable that they tell you up front that your play isn't going to get you anything, rather than offload it to a host. At least they are being honest about it.

Finally, as for JohnH, if you are counting cards, the last thing you should be doing is seeking for the casino to identify you. You should be ecstatic that you are not being harassed for ID.

I agree with Socalduck; they should disclose the $25-to-be-rated in a more diplomatic fashion, absolutely. The point I was making was that the pit crew probably assume that most people playing

I was at the Bellagio back in the spring and sat down at a $10-min-bet *roulette* table with $100, with the plan of betting both inside and outside. I gave them my card, and the pit critter threw it back at me and said "we don't rate players under $25/hand". They didn't wait to see what my bet was; it was just off the top. The pit boss acted like I was wasting his time. It wasn't a polite, "btw, just so you know, we don't normally rate players until they bet X", it was "I don't even care to see what you bet is. Please take your money elsewhere."

One thing to note is a $25 blackjack player is worth about $13/hr to the casino, whereas a $25 roulette player is worth $50/hr. I could be betting the table-minimum $10 a spin and be contributing more than a $25 blackjack player. At least at the craps tables they know to wait for a point to be established to see if a player makes place bets, or makes any of the high-edge prop bets, before they rate someone that walks up to a $10-min table.

The way it was said and done -- and really that it was done at all -- offended me so much that I left. Other MGM properties have been more polite, and also willing to rate lower bets (at roulette).

I definitely agree with JohnH's point: casinos should be welcoming gamblers, and their dealers and pit critters are the front line in that. I really don't want an uppity critter telling me to go away.

What frustrates me is when you get two different responses from two different pit bosses at the same property.

We stayed at the Mirage a year ago and sat down at a table. Cash on table with the card, got my chips and my card back with a stern comment, "we dont rate people that bet lower then $25". I shrugged it off played a few hands, colored up and left. Later that evening sat down at a table cash on the table and card in hand. As the dealer was stacking up my chips the pit boss asked for my card. I told them that I wasnt betting $25 a hand to which his reply was "Oh that doesnt matter, you should always give your card". The mixed signals continued for our 4 day stay. I never understood how it works and we dont gamble a lot (

It really has gotten to the point that if you're a low-roller, your player's club cards are pretty much useless at table games.

Back in 2007 when I got my Total Rewards card, the pit boss at O'Sheas told me that in order to be rated I needed to bet at least $10 a hand at the blackjack table, which really wasn't an issue. I'm used to playing $10/hand because that is the rule rather than the exception at most casinos these days, especially on the Strip. If they've got a $5 table, it's packed and will stay packed while the $10 or more tables have waves of the table being full to empty and in between.

Playing Downtown, I've handed my player's club card at the Golden Nugget, the Golden Gate, Binion's, the Four Queens, and the Fremont and never had the pit boss mention anything about a minimum bet. I just know that some points appear on my card after the fact.

Casinos are pretty much chasing away the casual player as well as the low-roller player. They'd rather have a bunch of folks who don't care that they're getting 6:5 instead of 3:2 on blackjack. I've watched guys bet green chips as if they were water and blow through $500 in 20 minutes. Hell, if I lose $100 in 20 minutes, I get pissed.

I love this article JohnH. I've only had one good experience with an MGM property with this and that was at the Luxor, pit boss at craps game asked me for my card, I said I know they don't rate at less then $25/hand. They advised that they'd keep it to the side and if I hit that level, they'd start rating. This is the exception rather then the rule though.

Way too many situations as you and others have described where you are made to feel like a vagrant if you aren't at the $25 level. It's unacceptable and they need to handle it better as a customer facing business.

You're being way to sensitive. I agree they should be polite about it, but they should tell you that they don't rate less than $25 tables so it is clear. It's much better than someone going along at $15 bets thinking they are being rated when they are not.

If a casino is running a $5 or $10 or $15 table, the pit boss ought to take note of the player if he or she makes the effort to hand over a card. Why? If the player has a good time playing $10 and gets a resort fee waived or a little less expensive room offer for the next trip or breakfast at the coffee shop, guess what? In six months, he comes back and tries for a little more "free" stuff. In a year or two, the casino has a new $25 player.

The alternative? Make him feel like a cheapskate off the bat and he'll take his money somewhere else.

How can executives in a business with a guaranteed edge not understand that?

For years, casinos made money hand over fist. So much that it attracted corporate ownership, which seems to be stripping out so many of the things that made losing money in a casino seem fun.

I'm not saying to give a $5 player the store. I'm saying to give him an aspirational experience that'll keep him coming back.

First of all, I'm amazed at how many responses this thread has. Secondly, I wholehearted agreed at everyone's setiment. I think it's entirely possible the pit boss' machine has buttons to click that specify the player's bet and perhaps the minimum button is $25. Like everyone else, I agree it's ok to explain to a player the minimum to be rated is $25 but it's not cool to treat a player like crap by insuating their action is good enough to be at that casino. You never know when a player will quickly win enough to start risking $25 per hand and by treating him/her like trash will influence them to move to another casino. Yes, we are customers. You never know when today's small fry will be tomorrow's whale. Let us play...let us establish a long term relationship with a place that respects us no matter what our bet is and you have a customer for life.

I sort of feel this is the way Stardust treated us low rollers. They invested in long term relationships...not quick strike profits. I forgot the exact expression but it's something like you can sheer a sheep many time but you can only slaughter a hog once. Don't treat us like hogs...just skim a little of our money over a long time and we'll come back. Slaughter us and we'll find somewhere us to go.

BigHoss makes an important point; large businesses often manage their businesses in a way that makes the experience far less personal and intimate.

Perhaps sub-$25 gamblers should receive, if not a 'rating' per se, some sort of perks for time played. Maybe a "gamble for 4 hrs (6 at Aria, Bellagio and Mirage) and you get one night's resort fee waived" or something.

Get ready for this to be a bit more interesting. The way Mlife is going to be used at the table is changing and hopefully this will go by the way with it.

i think all these pit bosses and their supervisors need to read the book about Steve Cyr - you never know when a $15 better can be turned into a $50 better with a little massaging.

@blackjacker...Don't hold out on us! Spill it.

It's also important to note that I had quite the opposite experience at an MGM Resorts International property last month. I stopped through Biloxi for a brief visit in early June. We stayed at CET's Biloxi Grand for a couple of free nights, courtesy of TR (kind of surprising in itself because I haven't given CET much play in years).

Anyway, we spent an afternoon down at MGM's Beau Rivage. I mainly played some 25-cent short-pay VP at the bar and drank some beer. I shot craps at a $10 minimum table for about a half-hour and fiddled around on some slot machines and Rapid Roulette with my wife. No big deal, I probably walked out with what I brought in and, certainly, it was no high roller affair.

The pitboss at the craps table took my card (Sapphire - don't play much with Mlife either) when I bought in with $100, welcomed me and wished me luck. A week or so after I got home, I received email and snail mail offers for two free nights, $50 in free play and two free buffets. I got another one today.

If the guy acted like a jacklip and made me feel like a schmuck for handing him my card, I could easily go another two decades without stepping into the state of Mississippi. But he didn't and I might take them up on the offers sometime soon.

JohnH's story never happens to me. MGM always treats me politely and I play in all their casinos other than CC or Excal. While from time to time they let me know they do not rate play for under $25, they still log everything to keep track of my buy ins and what I leave with for win/loss purposes. Don't know what I'm doing differently, but I've never had my card refused to be taken and recorded. That was harsh.

I am always in a better mood to drink, gamble and tip when I am asked for my Player's Club card at Encore's cheap tables. I know it means nothing, but the simple act means I am more likely to stay despite losing, throw down some bigger bets if I am on roll (and the boss is watching) and tip the servers and dealers at higher and more frequent intervals. It's a little thing, but it sure goes a long way!

I am actually surprised at the equanimity of some of these responses. I believe the mistreatment of a gambler in a manner such as this is reprehensible. Let's face the facts:
1- Most people don't have to gamble. It is a recreational pursuit. As such it is intended to be fun. An asshole move with bad attitude such as these pit bosses pulled should lead us to deny them our patronage.
2- These casinos are in a customer service business - with a competitor offering the exact same product right next door and across the strret. Thus a casino should practice some Business 101 and take care of the consumer so as to win the patronage from the compettion.

#- In a consumer centric environment one should always put their best foot forward.

I have been a gambler for 30 years and am now able to play at the black chip level yet I find such shoddy treatment of lower denomination players to be repulsive. I was at a craps table at the Mirage two months ago and listened to a pit boss regale a 10 dollar player about not hitting the back wall with his throws. The guy wasn't even trying to "control" the throw. He was laughing and joking with his buddies and just not paying attention. The pit boss eventually told the guy "Those are the rules- if you don't like them you can play somewhere else". Now cut me a break. This was a $10 table. Was that going to wreck the MGM balance sheet? The guy was just having fun. Isn't that what you are supposed to do when shooting craps with your pals. I cashed out and suggested the rest of the table do the same. Who wants to "play" when an asshole pitboss is raining on the parade over a $10 bet?

@AndyA ... fine. I'll spill.

Aria is testing a new system for inputting Mlife play at the tables. Instead of having the floor take your card, and flatly decline you if they're a dick, the dealer will instead take your card and swipe it at an in table reader. Afterwards they put in the amount of money you buy in for, and the rest is figured out by the metric. You clear out, you're logged out, money spent is calculated and hands per hour, comps, and everything else are all done in the ether.

While this is again taking comps further away from tradition, one thing that will come from it most likely is the end of pit bosses at MGM properties adhering to the $25 a hand rule as in the end it will come down to the dealer, a protocol, and the amount of money you buy in for and cash out with.

^^ Long overdue, sorely needed.

@blackjacker1979...Thank you. That is really good news (at least if it works better than the MLife website).

Like a lot of people on this thread, I've had wildly different experiences with pit bosses at MGM properties, with the best experiences coming at Aria and some of the worst at Bellagio...despite betting the same, low-green amount per hand at both properties. It would be great to get some consistency.

A little late to this thread, I know, but I've always had the opposite experience at Mandalay Bay. On more than one occasion, I've been playing $15 or even $10 blackjack, and have had a pit boss come over when and ask for my card; when I say I'm not betting $25 a hand, the response is invariably along the lines of, "Oh, that doesn't matter, you should always give us your card." And I know that they're at least tracking *something*, because I've checked and seen my tier credit balance go up after $15 blackjack sessions. Mirage, by contrast, consistently turns me down for less than $25. Ah well.

I have had this experience at some MGM resorts. However at MGM Grand I have never had it happen. They always take my card and put me into the computer and treat me with respect. I was shocked the times I didn't get treated so nicely at Mirage and Monte Carlo.

I have had the same $25 discussion with MGM pit bosses. I like to play at $10 tables whether it is craps or blackjack. As a result I pretty much don't gamble at MGM properties anymore. They don't care to give me the time of day so they don't get my gambling money. Playing $10 craps at the Wynn is the way to go. I have always had good dealers and they haven't dismissed me because of my low roller ways. Players cards on the strip are for high rollers and slot players. If you are a low limits table games player go downtown. Let the strip have empty 6/5 blackjack tables.

On a side note I did have a good experience at Mandalay Bay. When I was with a group of 4 people and they lowered a table limit from $25 to $10 so we would all sit down and play. Of course it was a Monday afternoon but the simple gesture goes a long way.

I had an odd experience last summer at the Excalibur. I was with a friend, and we were playing craps at a $5 table. I was betting $5 pass line and backing it up with either single or double odds; I bought in for $100. I'm as low-roller as it gets. Within a few minutes, they asked for my card. I said, "Oh, I'm not doing anything worth rating." The guy said, "It doesn't matter. You always want to give us your card when you play." We returned the next day, and it was the same routine again. I don't know, but it seems that the Excalibur did all they could to make the low-roller feel welcomed. I was surprised.

I have read all the comments on here and my conclusion is that some of the gamblers are shunned away because of a "have to, in order to" bet. I have been an mLife card holder for about 4 years. I am only a high gold member to say the least and I have yet to experience any of my money being told it's not worth a shit at a table. I stay only MGM resorts just for the opportunity to go up in tier credits and comps. I am low player when it comes to gambling and I have yet to see any of the activity going as some of you are experiencing. In fact I get offers daily to come back to every resort! July 4th weekend we stayed and a week ago we stayed. When we arrived at the Monte Carlo this last time the VIP desk( which was away from the chaos outside with long lines) had brought us in and told me my room was on them! Totally blown away! It's only been a week or two since being there and they are already sending my offers with comp rooms and $50 free play and food and beverage items as well. I think the MGM resorts are getting it right by now. But who knows maybe I'm just lucky. But those of you that have had bad experiences, tell your casino host or the VIP desk and they definitely will take care of you. Good Luck!

So I have a number of problems with you, not the "pit boss".
Lets start with shut up and take my mlife card. Douchebaggery alarms are going off. Sounds to me like you think you are above them. Even if you did not say this out loud the fact this is the title of your article is imo, proof of your douchebagness. I have been in the casino business for quite some time and you are right about one thing. We are in the customer service industry. This does not however mean we are here for your disparaging remarks or bow to some douche who is trying to bust some employees balls whilest he tries to perform his job (undoubtedly short staffed) all so you can make yourself feel better about inadequacies in your own life.
Second if you know enough to be a "card counter" you should know enough about casinos that:
a) you should not be playing at Aria if you are a red chip bettor and want to be treated like a big baller. Try something downtown.
b) If you are truly a card counter, the last thing in the world you want to is indentified
c) a pit boss does not rate you. A floor supervisor does that. A pit boss is their boss and does not walk around checking in $10 bettors.
Do you have any idea the sheer number of aholes like you that bet red chips and think they are entitled to be a dick to the employees because they saw a high roller do it or think if they mention the words "customer service" they are given the inalienable right to demand more than they are worth as a guest. I know you have probably blown two or three hundred dollars and watched the movie "Casino" a couple times but that does not make you an expert.
The fact that you know it is company policy not to rate a player that bets under $25 and you still argue and give the employee greif speaks volumes about your character. Sure sometimes the floor supervisors go above and beyond to rate you anyways but then as soon as somebody does their job by the book, you are insulted. Be glad someone helped you out and rated you when they shouldn't have. People who act like you are the reason people like you do not get rated. Good day.

I kinda agree with the above post from "JustOneTime". I don't work for any casino but my thoughts are if you're going to a high roller casino such as aria or bellagio, be prepared to play with high rollers. THOSE ARE BY NO MEANS "MEDIOCRE CASINOS" as you say.. Just walk around the main floor and you'll notice that most tables are $50+ ... $100 on weekends. $25 dollar tables allow for low rollers to still have a good time with the higher limit players. These minimums tend to keep red chippers off that slow down the game, which in turn equals more casino hold since they are typically faster players (not looking at strategy sheets, paying attention, being able to add 7+8 and realize you're only dealt 15 etc).

I am a single green chip player, however... Just remember that comps suck at tables, you want free sh*t at a high roller casino such as Aria? Take your bankroll and sit at a 3 coin .25 cent slot for 8 hours and you'll be treated like gold with free rooms and sometimes food. Sit at 2 coin $1 slots and you'll likely get RFB. Maybe you'll hit, maybe you wont. The casino always wins.

Or if you're really worried about being rated at a table because you "think" you're a good card counter (doubtful with your use of "casually count") and you have a ton more fun playing it... Just sit down with a stack of green AND red.. When the sup comes over, throw in a green, when he leaves, bet your 3 red. Most of the time they wont care, just don't make a scene and slow the game down for other players that like to play faster.

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