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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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The Casino's Way of Getting to Know You

26 May 2004

Just how much do the casinos know about you? If you're a slot player and you use a player's club card, it's a cinch they know quite a bit.

Player's clubs are great, and if you attend the casinos with any degree of regularity it is essential to become a member and use your card if you want to derive as many perks and as much value as you possibly can in return for the dollars you wager.

But there's an important trade-off: Player's clubs exist primarily for the benefit of the casinos themselves. Not only do the clubs encourage brand loyalty, they provide casino marketing divisions with invaluable profiling information.

Player's clubs give casinos the capability of learning everything they need to know about their most important guest, the slot player. When you use your card, a computer record is made of which machines you played, how long you played them, coin-in (the amount you bet) and coin-out (the amount you won).

The information that is gathered is used to determine any cash-back offers and comps to which you are entitled. Furthermore, it permits marketing divisions and player development teams to target direct mailings for specific levels of play.

Any casino host has the capability of bringing up a player's record on a computer screen to learn everything he or she needs to know about a particular slot player as it pertains to that player's "value" to the casino.

They're not overly concerned about how much you win or lose. They really want to know how often you visit, how long you play, and which denomination you prefer. There's also attention given to whether you play the slots as opposed to video poker.

When tax time rolls around, players may request a "won/loss" statement from the casinos. For slot players, the statement will provide an accurate account of just where you stand financially if you elect to declare losses against any jackpots of $1,200 or over that you are required to report as gambling winnings on your income tax return.

The records that casinos compile for table games players are a different story as evidenced by the following e-mail sent to this column:

"I recently obtained a won/loss statement from a casino regarding my blackjack play that I believe is EXTREMELY inaccurate, listing far greater losses than I actually sustained. Can you provide me with information regarding the procedures used to rate players at table games and the factors that can cause the system to be in error?"

Won/loss statements for table games players are based upon information supplied by the pit supervisor who is rating your play. When you play a table game and turn in your card to dealer with a request to be rated, the supervisor will make a note of your buy-in amount. He'll then periodically check the amount of your wagers. When you leave the table, he'll make a note of the amount for which you color out.

Since many table games players "squirrel away" (pocket) chips during a profitable playing session, the amount they color out for is not always an accurate barometer of what they've actually won.

Table games players are rated primarily for the comp value they accrue, which in turn determines their value as a player. This value is based principally on a formula using your average wager and the hours you spend playing that factors into something casinos refer to as "theoretical loss".

Once again the emphasis is not on whether you win or lose, but how much you play and for how long. Since every game has a built-in house advantage, there is a price every gambler pays just to play the games. That price is your theoretical loss. The longer you play and the more you bet determines how much that loss is, which in turn gives casinos your worth in comps.

The won/loss statements for table games players are, therefore, prone to be inaccurate and a broad estimate based upon human input. If you spend a lot of time playing, chances are your losses will be exaggerated because of the strong emphasis placed upon theoretical loss.

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