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Preface

Introduction

Table of Contents


Preface

This ebook is written in HTML form and can be viewed by calling the file up on your browser, just like any other web page. Since this ebook contains hundreds of internet links, it is best viewed while you are online so that you can take full advantage of the information contained herein. For webTV users and others I have posted an online version: Click here for online version

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2001 Jeff Konrad, All rights reserved.

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Introduction

Comps are the icing on the cake for the casino player. Casinos love to give comps to gamblers, both to earn their loyalty, and to make them comfortable while they are gambling. This ebook comps guide was written for everyone from the first time casino visitor to the veteran gambler. The aim of this ebook is to help everyone get their share of casino comps.


Table of Contents


What Are Comps?

Simply put, comps are any complimentary (read free) goods and services provided by the casino for the enjoyment of their patrons. They can range from free soft drinks on the low end all the way to free luxury suites and private jet flights to Vegas and Atlantic City on the high end, with everything in between. They are available to EVERYBODY who gambles at a casino and many comps are available even if you don't gamble. Every gambler, even the small time player at the nickel slots can get their share. The quality and quantify of comps the player receives are dependent upon how much the casino thinks you are gambling, and where you gamble.

This short guide to comps is directed at the mid to low roller gambler. The high rollers already know how the comps game works and don't need me to help them out. What most people don't know is that comps are available to EVERYONE who gambles at the casino. There is a small army of staff at every casino ready to look after their needs. What I want to focus on is the comps available to the rest of us. Even if you risk as little as $20 a session, you are eligible for comps. Just remember, the casino WANTS to give you comps. They want to make you feel welcome and comfortable in their establishment. They want you to enjoy yourself and come back often. Most importantly, the casino wants you to stay put and keep gambling. That's why they will bring you free drinks. You are at the casino to have fun. Receive and enjoy your share of comps, trust me you have earned them.


Who Gets Comps?

The short answer is: Everybody get comps. At the lowest level, casinos will comp anybody who even looks like they are playing at a slot machine, table game, or a sports book. The comps at this level are free soft drinks in all casinos and free cocktails in some jurisdictions. You don't need to fill out a form or even join a slot club to enjoy these freebies. They are also in addition to any comps you may receive if you are a slot club member. Usually the cocktail waitress will notice you gambling and ask you if you want a drink. If you accept these comps, just remember, the drink is free but, you must tip the waitress for the service. There are two reasons for this. One, if you expect her to come back, you have to make it worth her while. Second, these people work for minimum wage, the bulk of their income comes from tips. Just remember, the comps are free, the service must be compensated by you.


Get on the Comps Bandwagon

The casinos, since they want to give you comps, make it very easy to get on the comps bandwagon. All you have to do is JOIN THE SLOT CLUB. Every casino has a slot club or players club. The casino looks on the players club as one of its major marketing efforts. The procedure for joining is simple. Just ask any employee where the player's club booth is. The person manning the booth will fill out a membership card for you and ask for some photo ID. You will be issued a credit card sized players card in your name. It is now time to invoke the first rule of comps, "Obtain an additional players card". Just ask for one, if the employee balks, tell them that you like to play two machines at once. Players cards are disposable. They will issue you another one or two just for asking so don't worry if you lose one.

When you go to a slot machine, insert your card in the card reader, making sure that the card is accepted. You are now connected to the players club computer which will start to track your play. All you have to do is go about your normal play. The reason you got two cards is that many people gamble with a partner. Give the extra card to your partner and you will rack up double the amount of points. This is a much better method than both of you joining the club. There are other reasons for the greedy and unscrupulous to get an extra card, which I will cover later.

Most casinos combine their table play and slot play onto one card. When you sit down at a table game just place your player's card on the table along with your cash when you buy in. The appropriate casino employee will record your presence and track your play. An entry will be made later in the players club computer, crediting you with the appropriate amount of points. The two players/one account trick described above does not work so well for table play. Casinos print your first and last names on the cards and, if your wife sits down to play blackjack, the pit boss might be sharp enough to realize that she is not Arthur Small. You can, however, gamble at the tables yourself, and still have your wife, or whoever, rack up points for you on the machines.

Collecting your comps is just as easy as earning them. When you are ready to collect, just go over to the players club booth, present your card, and ask if you have anything coming. The employee will check your account on the players club computer and tell you what you are entitled to. If you have a comp coming, they will issue it on the spot, usually a free buffet, or two, or a credit at a casino restaurant. Some casinos have prize books that catalog the prizes. Instead of a price for each comp, the catalog will quote a certain number of points that are needed, for example 1,000 points for a room or 200 points for a buffet breakfast. The employee will tell you how many points you have and it is a simple matter of choosing your comp out of the catalog.

The most technologically advanced casinos have taken a further step and automated the comps reward procedure. These venues have installed comps kiosks that look and work just like ATM's. Instead of dollars in a bank account, however, they are tied into your comps account. You insert your players card, tap in your PIN and the comp kiosk will tell you what comps your are entitled to. At that point you can ask for a meal comp of, say $50, and the machine will print it up for you. Just trundle off to the buffet with your comp and chow down.


Slot Club Myths

There are absolutely no reasons not to join the slot club and use the card at every opportunity. There are some myths, however that people use for not joining the club and receiving the benefits.

Slot Club Myth #1--Using the slot card affects the outcome of the slot pull.

This is absolutely, positively false. It ranks right up there with the old wive's tale that the casinos flip a switch to lower the slot machine payouts on weekends. The RNG on the slot machine (which determines the result of a pull) is totally separate from the slot club computer. Inserting your slot club card has no affect on the outcome. Click here for more information on this.

Slot Club Myth #2--The government, or the casino, can keep track of my play.

This is true but, believe it or not, this fact actually works to your benefit in both cases. You want the casino to track your play. That is how you rack up points towards your comps. As for the government, if you hit a big jackpot, the IRS will be there for their cut. You might want to retrieve a record of your losses to offset the tax bite.

Slot Club Myth #3--I will go on a mailing list.

Absolutely correct, you want to go on a mailing list. How else can the casino send you deals for reduced rooms and notify you of special events?

Slot Club Myth #4--I am afraid of losing my card. Somebody else might use it.

Don't worry about it, they will give you another one, as many as you want. The only thing someone else can do with your slot card is insert it in a machine and rack up more points for you. This is a good thing.


Maximize Your Comps

Okay, so you have joined the club, you use your card at the slots and at the tables. Now, let's increase your points by 200 to 500 per cent. How? Read on.

First the multiple card strategy. This is very basic, if you play two machines at once, have a card in each machine. If you and your wife (travelling companion) both gamble, don't get two players accounts. Get one account, and concentrate all your points in that one. Have your wife play with your extra card. The same goes if you are travelling with friends or family, get them to use one of your cards.

Occasionally, even strangers will help you build up points. If you are playing beside someone who is not using a card, strike up a conversation. Ask them if you can insert your card in their machine. The worst they can say is no. A variation of this technique is to simply leave your card in a machine. Sometimes people will just start to play without noticing.

Besides these methods, the casinos themselves often provide double triple, as much as 5x slots days to boost their business during slack days and hours. Click here for a list of current slot bonus days.

There is another trend among casinos that could be a great boon to casino players. Harrah's casinos are now issuing and honoring one slot card for ALL their branded properties. In other words, a slot card issued Harrah's Las Vegas can be used at Harrah's Tunica and visa versa. If you travel a lot, and like to gamble around the country, you have to join Harrah's slot club.

Various methods have been advanced for stretching your comps at the tables. These include: betting heavy when the pit boss is looking, taking long rest room breaks etc. I really don't agree with these because it puts the player in the position of gambling just for the comps, a risky and expensive proposition. My advice is simply to make sure they know you are there and that the proper personnel are recording your play.


Comps Do's and Don'ts

DO-Play at the right casinos for your style and level of play. Click here for some general information.

DO-Use use your slot club card at every opportunity and maximize your comps.

DO-Make sure your comps stay active. Some casinos have a six or twelve month comps cycle, that is, if you don't use the slot club card every six or twelve months, you will lose all your points. If you have a favorite casino or a lot of points built up, make sure you know what the cycle is and try to keep those points active.

DO-Ask, ask, ask. If you have any question about any aspect of the slot club reward system, never be afraid to ask the appropriate personnel. This also goes for table games, do not be afraid to ask for 'extra' comps if you have been at a table game for a couple of hours.

DO-Toke at the tables. Toking is part of a successful overall gambling strategy but it also enters into a successful comps campaign. Dealers and pit crew in general will be much more willing to comp a friendly player who is toking them occasionally than a surly player who never tokes.

DO-Join more than one slot club. In fact, many players join the club at every casino they enter. You never know when someone, somewhere will send you a freebie.

DON'T-Be a cheapskate. If you follow this rule you will get as many free drinks at the quarter slots as the big roller at the $5 machine. Remember, the cocktail waitress is basically working for tips. Give her a buck or two the first go around, tell her you will be needing another one soon and you are on your way.

DON'T-Gamble drunk. Gambling while drunk (although real easy to do when the casino is giving you free drinks) is just plain dumb. Don't do it. When you start feeling that your judgement is the least bit impaired, run, don't walk away from the slot machine or get away from the table. On the other hand, having a couple (or ten) complimentary drinks at the casino bar while playing video poker or blackjack at the quarter bar-top Gamemaker is a great way to while away a few hours.

DON'T-Ever don't gamble just for the comps. This rule is self explanatory but you will see people violate it on a daily basis at every casino. Long after it is time to leave people will be routinely pouring more money into the slots, or staying too long at the tables, just to score that "free" buffet. The buffet is only free if the casino gives it to you as a result of the play you were going to give them anyway. If you play just to get the comp you might end up paying hundreds of dollars for a comp worth just a few dollars. toking-at the tables


Where to Play

I will give you some general rules here about where to play to maximize your comps but you will have to refine the technique to your own particular betting style and limits. You will obviously want to play where your play is appreciated, and rewarded. You will find that competition for your business, and maximum comps return is concentrated where the casinos are forced to compete, in other words where there are a lot of casinos.

Low Rollers-This includes quarter players and dollar slot players and up to $5 table players. The following casinos will reward your level of play best:

Downtown Las Vegas generally and specifically: The Plaza, Lady Luck, Four Queens, Golden Gate, Fitzgeralds, Las Vegas Club, Fremont and others.

Strip Casinos: Imperial Palace, Stratosphere, Riviera, Circus Circus, Stardust, Sahara, Barbary Coast, Harrah's

The following strip casinos are not that interested in quarter players. You better be prepared to play at least a dollar at the slots and ten or more at the tables for any comps here: Venetian, Mandalay Bay, Caesars, Bellagio, Alladin, Monte Carlo, Luxor, Mirage, Treasure Island.

Offstrip Casinos: Arizona Charlie's (Both), all the Station casinos, Ellis Island, Terribles.

Windsor-Detroit: Casino Windsor has the best slot club in this market, by far.

The following casinos are not that interested in quarter players. You better be prepared to play at least a dollar at the slots and ten or more at the tables for any comps here: Venetian, Mandalay Bay, Caesars, Bellagio, Alladin, Monte Carlo, Luxor, Mirage, Treasure Island.

Mississippi is also noted for good comps. Once again, the more casinos concentrated in an area, the more competition, the better the comps for the players. Check out Tunica and the Gulf Coast.


Moving Up the Comps Ladder

Moving up the slots ladder involves getting to know a slot host, and getting the host to know you. If you play enough to pass the threshold of dealing with a host, don't worry, the host will find you. If you are contacted by a host, you have reached the mother lode. You will be taken care of and, depending on your level of play, well taken care of.


Extra Comps

Even though you presented your card at the table, don't be afraid to ask for an additional comp after a couple of hours of play. Many times the table personnel will reward you with a meal comp or two because you have played for a while, win or lose. This is where toking comes in. If you were friendly with the dealer, toked once in a while, you stand a much better chance of scoring a comp. Many times, comps will be offered at the table to a long time (two hour or more) or a well known player. These comps usually WILL NOT be taken off your point total with the players club computer. These comps can also be collected even if you aren't a slot club member.

Comps in the Mail

Destination resorts know that their business is seasonal. Las Vegas slows down noticeably in December, and in the summer. The casinos still have all their fixed costs to pay during these slow times and they turn to their players lists to try and keep their hotels and gambling halls humming. By signing up for the slot club you put yourself on the casinos mailing list. They are always trying to fill their hotel and, many times, will send out terrific offers to their slot club members, trying to entice them back during slack times. These "comps" will generally take the form of greatly reduced rooms rates, combined with coupons for free buffets, free aces, matchplay chips, free coin rolls, free show tickets, scratch tickets, keychains, hats, t-shirts, and on and on. Another reason to join the slot clubs.

Comps in your Email

Casinos were generally slow to enter the internet age but now they are doing so, with a vengeance. Many casinos encourage you to sign their guest book online or just get on their email list by giving them your email address. Periodically they will pump out specials deals and offers to their email list. These are usually not as good as the deals they offer their slot club members, but sometimes they offer tremendous value.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Finally, casinos sometimes post room specials on their internet sites. This requires some work, you have to periodically scan your favorite casino's sites to see if anything has been posted. This may seem time consuming, but, I have found, and cashed in on virtually free rooms using this method.


Comps for Everybody

Free shows and extravaganzas in Las Vegas are really comps for everybody, even children. The best things in life sometimes are free. At least in Las Vegas, some of the best shows and attractions can be enjoyed gratis. Enjoy these free shows, presented in no particular order.

The Fremont Street Experience tops most lists as one of the premier free attractions in Las Vegas. Planned as a way to attract people and spruce up downtown at the same time, it is certainly a unique attraction. The Experience is a huge, themed sound and light show that takes place on a canopy covering the pedestrian mall on Fremont Street, downtown Las Vegas. Shows take place on the hour every night from 8pm until midnight. Take in this show. Where else can you get a free light show that runs four city blocks, surrounded by casinos?

In a city of superlatives, the Rio is, certainly, one of the best. Their Masquerade Village gives visitors an excellent free taste of a Las Vegas show. The show consists of dancers, musicians, and aerialists who perform on or above the stage daily. Wednesday is dark. The Masquerade Village makes the Rio a must see free Las Vegas attraction.

The pirate battle at the front entrance to Treasure Island is a long time Las Vegas favorite. Watch the Royal Navy battle the pirates of Buccaneer Bay right on the Vegas strip. Shows run daily at 4pm, 5:30pm, 7pm, 8:30pm, 10pm, and 11:30pm. Another Las Vegas must see, and the price is certainly right. If you want a great seat, go to the lounge located in the casino just on the Buccaneer Bay shoreline. You can get a ringside table for the price of a few cokes and a order of fries. Get there about an hour before showtime, unfortunately children are barred.

The Mirage has two great free attractions. First is the volcano that erupts periodically to light up the night sky. The other attraction is the rare white tiger habitat. These are among the rarest animals in the world and the only place you can see them is in Las Vegas. Without these free attractions the Mirage itself would certainly rank as a free 'must see'. In many ways this was the resort that started the present themed building frenzy on the strip.

While you are at the Center Strip, stroll over to Caesars Palace and visit the Forum Shops. The exclusive specialty shops of Rodeo Drive, Paris and Milan have been transplanted to Las Vegas. No bargains here but the window shopping is free. Check Caesars out while you are there, it is the original high roller paradise.

Sports fan will enjoy the Las Vegas Club Sports Hall of Fame. This attraction exhibits the largest private collection of sports memorabilia in the world.

Located at the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Spring Mountain Road (across from the Venetian) the Fashion Show Mall is THE upscale mall in town. Neiman Marcus, Saks, and their elegant cousins stand ready to accept any of your money the casinos didn't get.

Now that you've checked out the expensive stuff, drive south down the strip to the Beltz Outlet Mall. This is billed as the largest outlet mall in the world and, if you get tired of the excesses of Las Vegas gambling, you could certainly spend a day here enjoying the excesses of Las Vegas consumerism. 140 stores at this mall are open for your shopping pleasure seven days a week.

Away from the strip Sam's Town presents a daily "Sunset Stampede" sound and laser show. Like most light shows, this Boulder Strip attraction is best viewed at night. Sam's Town gives patrons good value for their money, a coupon clipper should go here anyway.

New York New York is a city-themed Las Vegas landmark, and pacesetter. The famous Manhattan skyline is reproduced (reduced size of course) as are the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the harbor, the Coney Island rollercoaster, and many other landmarks. The New York theme is extended to such features as the New York Slot Exchange. This casino proves you can do New York in a day.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in Venice in the 16th century; the commercial and cultural center of the world at that time. Imagine strolling entertainers, the world's best artisans selling their wares along the canal, and a casino. Well, wonder no more. The Venetian is another entry into the bigger, better Las Vegas sweepstakes. This themed resort includes a Grand Canal, St. Mark's Square, gondolas, and replicas Venetian landmarks such as the Doge's Palace, the Rialto Bridge, the Ca D'Oro and the Campanile Tower. Anytime you get a chance to look at something that cost $1.5 Billion to build (and isn't a government project), take a look. An absolute Las Vegas 'must see'.

Mandalay Bay is a new (1999 opening) casino still searching for its niche. Some of its features are: an 11 acre water park with beach and a wave pool, a Four Season's Hotel contained within the main hotel, and the obligatory numerous bars and restaurants. Las Vegas newest is free for gawkers.

Everybody raves about Bellagio. Steve Wynn's mega-resort is another $1.6 billion playground you can, and should, see for free. Would you spend $10 million for a chandelier and then put it in a casino. Well, that's what they did here in a resort themed after an Italian village on Lake Como. A five story conservatory, upscale shopping arcade, a 10 acre lake, and much more to see in this "must see". Don't bother to bring your kids unless they are registered guests, they won't let them inside.

The Imperial Palace auto collection is nominally a for pay attraction but you should be able to get tickets through their slot club. If not, you can usually promote a coupon or, sometimes the hotel gives away coupons out front. This is one of the best private classic auto collections in the United States.

The Tropicana houses a gambling museum that traces the development of gambling in Nevada from its earliest days. Once again, this is nominally a for pay proposition but you can usually get free passes at the casino.

This is not a free show, but if you work it right, you can get it for free and it's a Vegas 'must see' anyway. The Stratosphere Tower really does tower above Las Vegas and gives an unsurpassed view of the valley. It's usual cost is $6, but, bartenders and other personnel are empowered to give you a VIP card that includes a free pass for two to the tower. Stop by the bar, play some video poker, buy a drink, give them a tip, and ask for a VIP pass to the tower. Once there, you can get another pass for a return trip by purchasing a drink at the Top of the World Bar on the 106th floor.

Paris Casino has become another free Las Vegas 'must see'. You have to be impressed by the exterior architecture, and the attention to detail that permeates this venue. I was particularly impressed by the faux Eiffel tower that rises from the floor of the casino, the Parisien style cobblestone lined shopping/restaurant area, and the staff uniforms. Magnifique!

The MGM Grand is also a free 'must see'. It is the biggest casino hotel in the world and there is always a lounge act rocking and rolling in the main casino just off the entrance from Las Vegas Boulevard. Check out the free show.


Links to Comps Info, Room Specials, Free Vegas Deals

Lots of free and cheap deals are found in another free ebook: Las Vegas: A Budget Guide.

You can access current Las Vegas room specials: click here.

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2002 Jeff Konrad, All rights reserved.