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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Kinship doesn't count for comps

4 December 2015

Dear Mark: Sometimes I mistakenly use my dad's player's card in a slot machine. Would I have any trouble getting a big payoff if they see the card isn't mine? Wayne S.

On just about every players' club card brochure, you will find font size 4 print with these words: NON-TRANSFERABLE! Members may not distribute, lend or in any way allow another person to use their card.

These "revocable" perks-for-play are a privilege granted by the casino in exchange for your father's past and hopefully future action. When your Dad tries to redeem points for comps, most casinos are going to want to see some photo identification.

However, Wayne, that's for the freebies. Regarding your question, I talked with a few fellow employees from yesteryear still working on the inside: When it comes to the actual payoff of a jackpot, you will still be paid. They won't, though, issue comps to you by honoring his card. Here's the kicker: They are going to comp you anyway for a feeding frenzy so that after you chow down, you will hook right back up to another machine allowing them a shot at getting some of their money back.

Here’s the deal, Wayne. Casinos make billions by enticing players like you to hand over your hard-earned money. Thus, in the spirit of competition, casinos started offering comps to attract, and keep, loyal slot players. The knowledgeable player uses them to bargain for the best deals, along with lowering the house edge.

Since comps are awarded based on the number of coins you cycle through a machine, you might as well get credit for all those quarters you insert. Just don’t commit the mistake far too many players make: to gamble to excess just to receive them.

So, Wayne, being a slot player with the ability to "comp yourself," you justifiably deserve your fair share of the billion plus dollars casinos give away in comps each year. Just not on your Dad's card. That is not to say that in the real world (casino), countless spouses benefit from using each other’s card and seldom get caught.

While we're at it, I also would recommend that you possess player's cards from at least three different casinos. Casinos all too often change their comp guidelines and host personnel. If you have several casinos that you enjoy, you will never have to worry that any changes to their comp policy will ruin your gambling experience. By spreading your action, you will find that the various casinos offer distinctive bargains at different times of the day, week, month or year.

One final thought, since I am probably going to get this question multiple times after this column runs. The machine's software within does know that you are using a player's card. But, using one does NOT, repeat, does NOT, have any effect on your outcome or the house edge. That's a separate chip.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “It hurt to see you play games that were so one-sided. I dealt the cards, but the aces were in your back pocket.” Danny Seraphine, Thunder and Lightening. Chicago XIV
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.