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Ask the Slot Expert: Earning slot club points

27 July 2016

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: I just read your article about earning points on your slot club and disagree with the way points are earned.

While it certainly is true for Caesars properties, I am not sure about all the others. The Borgota in AC is jointly owned by MGM and Boyd (soon to change because MGM is buying out Boyd in the third quarter of 2016). The Borgota comp policy is very different and uses neither the MGM nor the Boyd BConnected card. They have three levels -- Red, Black and, I believe, Titanium. You need 1000 comp dollars in one year to achieve Black and its rewards are quite good.

Earning points are tough. They do not divulge the formula, but if you put $50 through the machine you will not earn anything. So skipping around and losing hundreds will not earn you much.

At the tables to earn comp dollars you must play to earn a minimum of $5 or you earn nothing. They will not divulge the formulas (I understand all table games have different decisions per hour and different win rates). I questioned them about my play at Pai Gow. Playing at a $20 table for one and one-half hours will earn you nothing; play for one and three-quarters and you may earn $5 comp.

It bothers me because I'm 81 years old and do not have the stamina to stay at a machine or table for long periods of time. I pointed out to them that on weekdays there a majority of seniors in the casino with my same lack of stamina and that even table dealers get a 20-minute break after an hour (crap dealers switch positions usually every 20 minutes).

I am only Platinum at Caesars and hate Atlantic City. I go to Vegas at least five times a year from NJ. When I go to AC with my wife, I drop her off at the front door and proceed to Ballys.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

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 slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

 

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John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots