I like to use a broad definition of “casino comps.” The phrase means anything free you get from a casino, online or off. This free stuff can include cash rebates, free spins on slot machines, travel, food, or entertainment.
Casinos decide how much to comp you based on their estimates of how much action you’re bringing the casino. They know, based on their averages, how much you’re expected to lose when placing a specific number of bets of a certain amount.
Your percentage of comps is based on that predicted average loss, NOT on your actual losses. So, you can be a winner at a casino and still get casino comps. People do it every day.
The easiest way to get more casino comps is to place more bets and make those bets bigger in size. That’s also a surefire recipe for losing more money in the long run.
You can find other ways to get more casino comps, too, and this post offers advice on several of them.
Always Sign Up for the Players Club and Always Play With the Players Card
Don’t believe the nonsense that some so-called slot machine experts tell you about how you can’t win on a slot machine with your slot machine card inserted. They don’t understand how things work.
The software that reads your players club isn’t connected to the software that generates the results on a gambling machine. The random number generator and the card reader have nothing to do with each other. Even if they did, the casino wouldn’t have any incentive to do such a thing.
To do this, they offer cash rebates, free food, free entertainment tickets, etc. Players Clubs in Las Vegas know how to do this very well for their dedicated gamblers.
But if you suddenly weren’t able to win on the slot machines, why would you keep playing?
The entire way the system is set up is to pay occasional winners to motivate gamblers to keep playing. The payouts are set up so that the casino makes a profit regardless.
For example, the casino might pay off a jackpot of 1000 coins on a slot machine, but that jackpot might only hit once in every 2000 spins.
Combine that with the prizes for all the other combinations and the smaller prizes, and the casino has the game set up so they wind up with a long-term profit.
They WANT players to win so that you’ll keep playing. The player’s card just does more to motivate you to keep playing, so the casino has no incentive to penalize you for using that card.
Understand How the Casino Decides the Amounts of Your Rewards
The casino knows what its average edge is on any casino game. On their slot machines, for example, they might be winning 6% of your every bet. Their table game average might be 4%.
They also know that some sharper gamblers are keeping their edge to 1% or less by playing blackjack with perfect strategy or using an optimal video poker strategy.
So, they set the rewards at a small percentage of your action, usually around 0.2%. Here’s how that would work…
You’re playing a slot machine for $3 per spin, and you’re making 600 spins per hour. That’s $1800 in action. The casino, in the long run, expects to win 6% of that, or $108.
Sometimes, you’ll win during that hour. Other times, you’ll lose more than that during the hour, but the average in the long-term, which is the only thing the casino cares about, is a $108/hour loss.
The rewards or rebates on that kind of action is only $3.60, so that’s a profitable deal for the casino. You can see why they have little incentive to cheat in that situation.
Even if you play blackjack, the rewards rate is awarded at such a small percentage that the casino still retains plenty of profit.
Let’s say you play 90 hands of blackjack per hour at $5 per hand. You’re putting $450 per hour into action. Let’s say the rules aren’t great, and your mastery of perfect strategy might include a couple of mistakes, so you’re expecting to lose 1% on average.
That’s $4.50 per hour in expected losses. The rewards on this action are also smaller, though. 0.2% of $450 is 90 cents per hour.
This also gives the casino the flexibility to offer higher reward rates during happy hour and the like. They can also have a higher rate of rewards for gamblers who are part of a higher tier.
For example, some casinos offer double or triple reward rates during certain hours. So, instead of getting $3.60 per hour back, they might get $7.20 back or $10.80 back when gambling on slots for real money. Or they might get $1.80 or even $2.70 back.
The Rewards for Being a Player Are Always Lower Than the Amount You’re Expected to Lose
This means just what it says, and it should be obvious based on the percentages I’ve already explained. In the long run, the law of large numbers will ensure that your actual results combined with the actual results of all the other players making an aggregate number of bets in the tens or hundreds of thousands will mirror the expected results.
But in the short run, you can sometimes still walk away a winner. In fact, if you play long enough and often enough, you’re almost ensured of having a winning streak. The trick is quitting while you’re ahead. Since you’re never able to predict when you’ll have a winning streak or how long a winning streak will last, this is just a matter of luck or having a win goal.
A win goal is just an amount that you can win that will signal you that it’s time to quit.
The house edge for most casino games hovers around 5%, although it gets lower with some games. When it comes to gambling machines, the house edge tends to be higher than 5% unless you’re playing video poker. Even then, you need to be playing video poker games with specific pay tables to get those better odds.
If the rewards program is paying back 0.2%, your effective house edge is only 0.26%, which is as close to even money odds as you could ask for.
Even real money blackjack will have an edge of 0.38% at best unless you’re counting cards. With rewards of 0.2%, you still face an edge of 0.18%. It’s tiny, but an edge, nonetheless.
The casino doesn’t expect most players to be able to play blackjack or video poker well enough to achieve those numbers, and for the most part, they’re right.
There’s Still a Catch or Two to Take Advantage Of
The first catch is that the casino sometimes offers double or triple points on their comps plan. This means the 0.2% becomes 0.4% or even 0.6%.
When a game has a house edge of under that amount, the game suddenly becomes a game where you have a tiny edge over the casino.
It’s a small edge, but it’s an edge. Gambling becomes practically breakeven, and at that point, you’re just having fun at no cost.
The second catch concerns table games. The card readers at the gambling machines track your play, so there’s no tricking the casino into thinking you’re gambling more than you really are.
But at table games, the dealers and pit bosses rate you based on the average size of your bet and on how many hands you’re playing. This means that the comps are based on an ESTIMATE of your hourly action, not your actual hourly action.
You can bet less than the casino thinks you’re betting and play fewer hands than the casino thinks you’re playing to get more comps than you might deserve.
For example, if you’re playing at a blackjack table and getting 80 hands per hour, you can take a couple of breaks per hour to leave the table to go to the restroom. You can also act like you’re superstitious and sit out a couple of hands here and there.
You might only play 60 hands per hour instead of the 80 that the casino is basing your action on.
If the casino thinks you’re betting $25 per hand over the course of 80 hands per hour, they’ll comp you based on $2000 worth of action per hour.
But if you’re only averaging $10 per hand over the course of 60 hands per hour, you’re only putting $60 per hour into action.
There are few tricks to getting more comps from the casinos. You can spend more time playing, bet more every time you bet, or play only during times when you get extra points for your play.
The trick is to get more comps without gambling more than you would have otherwise. If you’re going to gamble more just to get more comps, you’re going to lose money.