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27 July 2016
By John Robison, Slot Expert™
Answer: It's hard to believe that it was almost 20 years ago that I did the research for and published Inside Atlantic City's Slot Clubs. Inspired by Jeffrey Compton's The Las Vegas Advisor Guide to Slot Clubs, I wanted to do the same guide for Atlantic City's slot clubs.
Jeff had a much easier job than I had. Many of the casinos in Las Vegas had simple formulas for earning points and they published the formulas in their brochures.
At the time -- and maybe still -- Atlantic City was the king of the ACCEPTED card reader display -- that word pretty much summed up all the information you could get about the slot club in terms of formulas. There was one casino, I don't remember which, that at least would tell you how many coins you needed to play to earn one point. Tough luck if you switched machines before completing the point -- you received no credit for your play.
To determine the formulas used by the different casinos in Atlantic City, I tracked the amount of action I gave in different types of machines and looked to see how much I earned in cashback and comps.
I remember attending a seminar about Acres Gaming's new slot club software in the late 1990s. One of the big features was Follow-Me Points. Using their software, your partial points would follow you from machine to machine, so you got credit for every coin played.
Such nonsense. The limitations of the first generation of slot clubs were the result of trying to graft slot club software and processes onto machines that were not designed for them. The software running today's machines was designed with slot clubs in mind and there is a protocol defining the conversation between the slot club software and a slot machine.
I don't know the column to which you're referring. Each casino/casino company is free to define its own slot club formulas and procedures subject to local gaming regulations. I may have described the formulas in one casino, but one cannot extrapolate to say that the same formulas are used by another casino.
Back in the late 1990s, I determined that there were two types of comping philosophies in use at the time. One I called table-game-centric. This philosophy was used by the strip casinos. I had specific experience with Caesars Palace and the Desert Inn. At those two places, it was nearly impossible to earn a comp, even just the casino rate for a room, during a stay -- at least with my level of play. They mailed me offers for free rooms and free food, but I couldn't earn them during a stay. These casinos were looking for large action for comps. At least they both had 9/6 Jacks in dollars.
The other philosophy I called slot-centric. It was much easier to earn comps at these casinos. The best example of this philosophy was at Treasure Island. Clearly stated in the slot club brochure, you were entitled to the casino rate on your room for playing $750 in action in a day. No hidden formulas, no questions. Play $750 and they'd adjust your rate down to the casino rate.
Borgata, being the premier casino in Atlantic City, seems to be going for a player who gives more action than you do. (Some casinos don't even rate less than green-chip play.) You can bet 20 bucks per hand at Pai Gow, but if you want to earn comps, you'll either have to up your bet or play for a long time until your total action times the comp percent equals more than toll money.
I get your point about not having the stamina to play long enough to earn comps, but their formulas and policies are what they are. I don't think it's an apples-to-apples comparison, moreover, comparing players sitting at a table with the dealers running the game.
The dealers are working. They have to remain vigilant to spot cheating and adherence to proper procedures. They need frequent breaks in order to provide that high state of awareness.
The players, on the other hand, are -- well -- playing. They don't have to run the game. They can be tipsy or sleepy or disinterested without affecting the integrity of the game. Players don't need breaks to keep the game running smoothly and correctly.
I have two suggestions for you. First, switch to a casino that gives better benefits for your level of play. You might have to get used to less elegant surroundings, but at least you'll be eating for free.
My second suggestion is to stay where you are and take what you can get.
When I vacationed in Las Vegas, I usually stayed on the Strip, usually at the DI, TI or Caesars. I might have been able to get better benefits off strip -- and did I occasionally stay away from the strip -- but those casinos were fun to stay at and fun to play at. They all sent me good offers and they all had 9/6 Jacks in dollars. I was happy.
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
20 July 2016Comment: You, Mr. Robison, are a smart man capable of rational thought and have an exceptional ability to explain all the ins and outs of slot machines and how they work. You explain that there is absolutely no way to manipulate a slot machine to influence the outcome of a spin. However (Isn’t there ... (read more)
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6 July 2016Question: Most slot players have heard or said, "If only I had bet two coins." I was wondering if there is any truth to this statement. I often play an older slot machine (Triple Gold Bar) for which there are two- and three-coin versions. While it is clear that hitting the bet max button ... (read more)