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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Player's Club Strategy for Couples

3 December 2003

If you plan casino outings with any degree of regularity, joining the player's club and using your card every time you play the slots or table games is an essential if you wish to derive maximum benefits from the dollars you wager.

As this columnist has emphasized in the past, player's clubs exist primarily as essential marketing tools for casinos to collect data bases and guest profiles. Consumers, however, have the ability to make the system work for them if they manipulate the system for their own benefit and not the other way around.

One question I am asked rather frequently is how couples who enjoy recreational casino gambling should use their player's club cards. Is it better for each person to play with their own card and build equity in separate accounts, or should they play with one card in an attempt to "double team" one account from which they both can benefit?

One important factor you must keep in mind with player's clubs is that one person will always get a "free ride" as a guest of the offer recipient when it comes to perks such as complimentary overnight hotel stays, galas, or other special events.

With this in mind, it is generally better for average players to combine their play on one card in attempt to create one strong account rather than two weaker ones. If their combined play makes one member of the team a top-rated player, both will ultimately benefit from a majority of the associated amenities.

It's still a good idea to record some play on the other card in order for that person to remain on the property's direct mail list for cash offers, giveaways, and other promotions.

This strategy is probably not sanctioned by the casinos themselves. If you're a table games player, you must use the card that was issued in your own name since you'll be identified in person. Play at the slot and video poker machines, however, is tracked electronically via a computer program. All the casino knows is how often the card was used and at which machines, as well as coin-in and coin-out tabulations.

Most player's club members have more than one card issued in their name anyway in case they choose to play two machines located side-by-side. I suppose casino managements could enforce matching names on cards to faces, but I don't think they care that much. The legalities regarding the awarding of jackpots and the use of player's cards have nothing in common.

Arnie Miller, a resident of Florida who reads this column on the Daily Southtown's Website, sent along a question which adds another dimension to today's topic:

"I have graduated from slots to craps and my wife plays only slots. In the past few outings, I have noticed my comps dwindling while hers stay on an even keel. While I played slots we both had about equal mail offers. I analyzed my play versus hers during our last trip and I found out I was risking a few thousand more an hour than my wife, yet she gets two to three times more in comp offers than I do. That really makes me mad."

Arnie's dilemma emphasizes the fact that all casinos put a priority on slot play when it comes to player's clubs. Casinos derive a vast majority of their revenues from slots because of the average "hold" on the machines and the fact that people can play them at a much faster rate.

Even though Arnie is playing a considerable amount of money at the craps tables, the "house edge" of the game and the rate at which play progresses subjects his money to a lesser "theoretical loss" than his wife's slot play. His money, therefore, has to "work" harder to earn comps.

Casinos also award reduced value to people who play video poker in light of the fact skillful players can dramatically reduce the house edge (depending on the pay table).

If you're willing to sacrifice the amount (and value of) direct mail offers you receive from casinos in exchange for playing games at which you have a better chance of getting the most value from your gambling dollars, you're going beat them at the marketing games they play.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp