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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Insert your card for your fair share of freebies

28 March 2008

Dear Mark: As a fairly new slots player, I have made certain observations, as well as heard things from other players. Is it true that once you have inserted your "players' club" card into a machine, it knows how you gamble and can be the determining factor in whether you win or lose? I have observed in my most recent visits, that my chances of winning are greater, as well as the amount I win, if I do not put in my players' club card. Is that just a fluke? Geri L.

There is a darn good reason for you to be inserting your "players' club" card into a machine, that is, if you want to get your slice the of over a billion dollars' worth of comps that casinos nationwide give away each year. You get your goodies by using one of their players' club slot cards, whose only purpose is to register the number of coins you cycle through a machine. What the machines are not programmed to do, Geri, is stiff you of jackpots because you're using one.

Slot machines are only preprogrammed to pay out a certain percentage on a random basis, notwithstanding all kinds of "fluke" streaks — good and bad — appearing. Because its decisions are random, it doesn't give one iota whether your players' club card is inserted or not. All the casino operators' care about is that after millions and millions of such decisions, X amount of money will be retained by the casino and lost by the players.

Dear Mark: I've written you in the past and you always answered and were most helpful. I was hoping to pick your brain on a Las Vegas question. In my past five visits to Vegas, I never tipped the parking attendant when I arrived at the casino, but always tipped the valet $5 when I left. Are you supposed to tip on both ends of the deal? Also I was reading the tipping advice from a Vegas commerce site and their advice was to tip the valet attendant two bucks. So have I been doing it wrong and have I been over tipping. I use about 40 valets over a 5-day period for one reason or another. Any insight would be appreciated. Still faithfully reading your column and enjoying it. Steve B.

Valet Parking is a free service offered not only in Las Vegas, but also pretty much at every casino nationwide. Along with knowing that valet parking is a complimentary service, it should also be known that casino employees work in a service-based industry and cannot survive on their salary alone. Their livelihood is based almost entirely on tips.

So how much makes you look like a cheapskate and how much makes you seem like a chump? Well, Steve, a friend of mine – who would like to remain unnamed — who makes a tidy sum at one of the larger — he'd like to keep that undisclosed, as well — casinos on the Strip says that at least $2 for both dropping your car off and picking it up elevates you above el cheapo, $3 to $5 each way puts you in the generous category, and $20-and-up coming in will get "VIP" marked on your ticket, which gets your car up front and out a whole lot faster. Oh, and he also said, "Wave a buck in your hand on the pick up, and you'll be waiting for your car longer than it takes GM to build it."

If all this tipping seems a bit too philanthropic for your liking, his reply was, "Hey, it's Vegas baby."

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I got cigar boxes full of bad checks from Square John Businessman, but not one from a gambler." —Amarillo Slim Preston

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.