I’m looking forward to being done with this series of columns because I would really like to actually talk about OTHER CRAP than Las Vegas, but I feel compelled to complete this before I start other blithering.
Several questions have come up during the course of this series publication. Usually, I’ve gone back to the relevant column and augmented with new sections.
Player’s Card / Comps
One topic which didn’t have an obvious answer was the question of "Player’s Cards." These little plastic cards have some of the same mojo around them as the High Roller areas. I’M JUST SOME TWIT SO I WILL QUIETLY PASS THESE AREAS LEST THEY DETECT I’M A TOTAL LOSER.
This perception is partially correct. First off, and most importantly, player’s cards are just another scam to get you to sit at a table and blow more cash. The idea being that the more you bet, the more "stuff" you could be potentially be compensated (or "comped"). Comps can vary from free food, hotel rooms, rides to/from the airport, basically anything which gets you to stay in the casino where there is likelihood that you’ll blow more cash.
Player’s card acquisition can be simple. As is the case in Ballys, there’s a table directly across from the hotel check-in which will provide you with a card. You fill out a simple form and they print you this fancy credit card-looking thing which gives you the impression “I’m a professional gambler” and that is exactly what they want you to think.
I do not recommend acquiring a player’s card in this manner. The best way is to get one is to be offered it. I’ll explain.
Let’s say you’ve got your Monte Carlo players’ card and you sit down at a $5 blackjack table. As soon as you sit down, you throw $100 up along with your card. The dealer hands the card to the pit boss and he/she starts tracking you. Tracking basically means they’re paying attention to how much money you’re betting/winning/losing. Once they start tracking you, they’ll probably hand you your card back and that’ll be it.
It’s a testimony to the surreptitious efficiency of Vegas in how aware they are of your betting. Unlike slots which mechanically track your betting, table games are tracked by the pit boss occasionally walking by and looking at your stack of chips. You will not notice, but, don’t worry, they know. After a particularly expensive weekend, several of us went into the players’ lounge to see what they could do for us. As they ran each of our cards, it became terrifyingly apparent that they had a better idea how much we’d lost than we did. “I’m only down $2000, but they say it’s $2500, dipshits.” But Rands, you forgot that craps table beating you took to the tune of $400. Oh. Shit.
The reason you want to be offered these cards is because the type of betting you’re likely to do is not going to be significant enough to qualify for comps. For example, at a Pai Gow table in the Monte Carlo, you need to be betting a minimum of $25 a hand. If that happens to be what you bet on average, the good news is that the pit boss will likely come over and offer you a player’s card. This is not because they want to give you free crap, it’s because they want to potentially cover any losses they have if you get lucky and walk away with $5000. A player’s card is designed to keep you the building and, if you’re in the building, chances are you’re going to lose money.
There are two ways to acquire comps if you feel you’re due. One way is trivial. If you’re up big bucks at a table, the pit boss is going to come over and offer them to you. “Mr. Rands, would you like to have dinner on us?” Anyone who has bothered to read the RANDS VEGAS SYSTEM columns should be hearing, “Dear PersonWhoHasOurMoney, would you like to stay in our casino so we can figure out a way to get our money back?”
The other way to garner comps is to go to the player’s lounge and ask. This is usually a good idea if you’re down significant cabbage and are trying to recoup costs. Obviously, the house is not motivated to do this because they’re up when it comes to you being down, but if you made a significant deposit, they will recognize that. During one outing, the Monte Carlo comped us not only our hotel rooms for the entire weekend, but also an outrageously expensive Italian dinner where we had our way with the wine list. This would be a great story save for the fact that, collectively, the group was down over $20,000 for the weekend. Comps. Yeah. Right.
This analysis of player’s cards is not fully baked. Most of my experience has been at moderate to high end casinos where the minimum bets to get a player’s club card were uncomfortably high. During the most recent trip, we discovered the moderately priced Barbary Coast also had player’s cards. If betting rates are a function of the average table bet (which, in the case of Barbary Coast are significantly lower), there may be affordable comps to be had.
If you’ve got an amazing comp/player’s card story, I’d like to hear it.
The money doesn’t matter.
A majority of the feedback I’ve received regarding the RANDS VEGAS SYSTEM
has focused on the money. How much is this? What should I bring to that? I understand that you’re trying to budget appropriately, but you’ve missed the primary point of these columns.
I’ve been going to Vegas for over ten years and, in that time, I’ve probably been to Vegas twenty or thirty times. I’ve gone with fifty bucks in my pocket and I’ve gone with $5000. Invariably, the quality of time that I’ve spent there has never been a function of how much cash I have at my disposal.
The RANDS VEGAS SYSTEM is about optimizing opportunity. Putting yourself in the right place at the right time with the right tools because who knows when you’re going to get lucky?