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Fast Comps for Slow Paces - Part 220 October 2001
Before you start playing, go to a casino host and find out what your intended play is worth to them. Ask about the various levels of comps. What level is RFB, RLF, and so forth. Here are other questions you should ask:
ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE
Make sure that when you sit down, you do not start playing until the floorperson actually takes your card and records your name. You want every minute of your play credited to you. Then ask the rater the same questions concerning bet spreads, number of hands, etc., that you asked the host. You might think that casinos are well-coordinated in their rating policies but this is not always the case.
I had an interesting thing happen at a casino in Las Vegas recently as I researched this article. I was playing two hands of $30 each off the top and assuming I was being rated at $60 for that effort (I had checked with the host beforehand). In fact, after the first day of play, when I asked the host to pull up my chart, I discovered that often the rater had me rated as betting $30! I explained to the host, then to the casino manager, that I was never betting less than $30 per hand on two hands and I was often betting much, much more - although none of my big bets had been recorded.
After another day of play, I again asked to see my chart (most hosts will let you see the computer screen as they check your statistics -- if they don't, then play elsewhere) and I found bets of $50, $27.50, and the like. Since I never played fewer than two hands and never less than $30 per hand I couldn't at first figure out how the raters were getting their figures. Then it hit me. There were times when one hand busted and the other stayed in play. If the rater came by during play, and noticed my cards tucked under one bet but saw no bet in the other circle and recorded that, it would account for why $30 (or $50) would appear as my betting unit. On my third day of play, I rectified that. If I busted out on one hand, I'd immediately place another bet in the circle even though the dealer hadn't finished the round. Then if the rater wandered over, he/she would see the two bets and give me credit.
How to account for a rater placing $27.50 next to my name? Simple. When I placed a $5 bet for the dealer I would put it on top of my $30 -- sometimes I received a blackjack on those hands. The blackjack paid $52.50 -- two green chips and $2.50 in silver. If I took one of the green chips back to get some red to pay the dealer his $7.50 tip, the rater would see a green chip ($25) and the $2.50 in silver and write down $27.50! If you are playing the comp game, such moments can kill a rating. At that particular casino I started to alert the floorperson to all my big bets -- "Jane, check this out. I'm going for $150 on two hands! Three hundred bucks riding on the flip of the cards! I'm going for broke! Pray for me!" From that point on the rating in the computer reflected what bets I was actually making.
DON'T WAIT -- COMP AS YOU GO!
Get your comps up front and don't wait until the end of your stay to settle up. Many hosts will tell you to "charge it to your room" and at the end of your trip they'll pick up whatever your play warrants. My experience has been that it is better to get your comps up front -- comp as you go -- rather than wait for the end. This advice was brought home to me recently at one Vegas casino that is noted for being very tight with comps. I was waiting to see the host to assess what I would get for my projected play (again for this particular article) and one other man was ahead of me. Here's the conversation:
Host: "We have you down as a $100 blackjack player playing for 12.5 hours for three days. We'll pick up your room and $300 in food for your stay."
Player: "Wait a minute, didn't you say at this level of betting I was RLF [room, limited food] and that I could charge everything from the non-gourmet rooms and you'd pick it up?"
Host: "Our policy is to pick up the non-gourmet up to a certain point. You charged approximately $180 per day to your room in food bills..."
Player: "My wife eats a lot."
Host: "About $498 worth of food and we'll pick up $300 worth."
Player: "But I lost $2,375!"
Host: "Whether you win or lose isn't the issue, how much you bet, for how long, is how we decide what to give you."
I then decided to try a little experiment. I would mimic this player's betting level and hours played, but I would ask for my comps up front for everything but the gourmet rooms. Those I would charge to my room. My breakfasts (total cost $20), and my lunches (approximately $40) were comp as you go. I stayed three days and got comps for $180 up front. (When I asked for a comp, pit bosses inquired if I was staying at the hotel. I answered yes but I prefer to get comps this way. No one turned me down.) I charged $487 in gourmet meals to my room. At the end of my three days I went to the host.
Host: "We have you listed as playing 12.5 hours at $100 per hand. We'll pick up your room and $300 of your food."
Me: "Thank you, that's very generous of you."
In fact, by getting my non-gourmet comps up front, I was given $480 in comps for food, while the player I mimicked had only received $300 for food. Whether this stratagem will work at every casino is hard to say, but you can't lose anything by trying it. So get those comps up front!
WASTE THEIR TIME, NOT YOURS
Always take your bathroom breaks, your "I have to stretch my legs" break, during play and not during shuffles. If you come back in the middle of a shoe (or deck) sit out the remainder by saying: "I don't ever jump into a game mid-shoe or mid-deck."
Always stay for the introduction of new decks, even if you had planned to leave the game. It usually takes about five minutes to do the wash and shuffle and that five minutes will be added to your comp time. In fact, you can sit through the new-deck shuffle and then sit out the shoe or deck: "I'm never lucky on the first deals after new decks have been introduced. I'll sit out!"
Avoid automatic shuffling machines. These are good for the casino but bad for the players.
In craps, utilize the Captain's 5-Count, which will eliminate approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the shooters -- the ones who seven out early. Most craps players don't bet on every roll of every shooter and my experience has been that utilizing the 5-Count gets you a good rating without the requisite time. If you are a place bettor, go up on the numbers when a shooter is on the Pass Line. Your place bets will be "off" but your comp time will be "on."
If you can afford to bet $25 or more, play traditional baccarat -- do not play mini-baccarat. In fact, as I show in my book Baccarat Battle Book, a $25 traditional baccarat player has a better expectation than a $10 mini-baccarat player! So go for green if baccarat is your game.
Try to play with friendly and talkative dealers. The game tends to slow down a bit in such cases. It slows down even more when you play with friendly and talkative players as well.
USE THE COMP SYSTEM, DON'T ABUSE IT
Even though you are looking to maximize comps, do not be perceived as greedy. In fact, don't be greedy. If you are RFB, eat and drink what you normally would - don't pig out just because it's "free." There was a time when anyone betting $100 per hand at blackjack was an RFB player at any casino in the United States. No more.
Many Strip casinos now require $150 as a minimum bet to qualify for RFB. Why? Because some $100 players went berserk when offered "free" meals with no caps, ultimately ruining it for other $100 players.
If you employ the various ideas in this article, you could very well find yourself with a "monetary edge" over the casinos, or, at the very least, with the most comps for the least risk. If you're going to play the comp game, you might as well play it to win!
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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