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Best of John Robison

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Pulling a players' club card

30 March 2011

Hi John,

I have been enjoying your Guru advice for so long now I have finally the need to present a question myself.

Can removing your player's card just before a bonus round begins prevent the casino from tracking money won during the bonus?

The reason I ask is for the first time in my life, I noticed a lady pulling her player's card out EVERY time a bonus round hit on her slot -- she'd put it back in afterwards, though.

I kept thinking it was something she did for LUCK, but the nefarious side of me thought... "Hey, maybe she is stopping the machine from reporting her bonus win money as it can't possibly report what it doesn't know is coming in the bonus round."

no card -- no report...

Theoretically, she can show LOTS of money going in the machines and much less than actually won coming out... ahh, the tax man can't take what he doesn't know you won... (assuming she uses a win/loss statement for taxes).

Any thoughts or inside knowledge?

THANKS!
Kay

Dear Kay,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

The first few players' club implementations were add-ons to the slot machine. They were separate systems in boxes attached to the sides of the machines. When a player put a card in, the values of certain meters in the slot (e.g., coin-in, coin-out) were sent to the players' club software to be used as the starting point for the player's session. When the player pulled out the card, the current values of the meters were sent to the club software and the differences between the ending values and the starting values were used to calculate the player's action and the amount won or lost.

Some players realized they could game the system by pulling out their cards before a high-paying -- or potentially high-paying -- event occurred. For example, a video poker player might pull out her card before pressing the Draw button when dealt a royal flush or four cards to a royal. In this way, the bet gets recorded because the coin-in meter has registered it, but the win is not because the bet has not been decided.

As soon as slot manufacturers found out that some players were doing strategic card pulls, they looked at ways to ensure they get the complete results of the wager. Now that player-tracking systems are better integrated into the slot machine's operating system, the potential exists to delay processing the removal of the card until after a pending wager has been decided.

I have never pulled my player's card. I think it's more hassle than it's worth. If the payout is $1,200 or more, you're going to get a tax form anyway so there's no advantage to pulling the card. Payouts below, say, $500 are too frequent -- you'll be pulling your card all the time. And payouts between $500 and $1,200 are not that frequent for all but high-denomination players.

Moreover, there's a word for deliberately manipulating records to make it appear as if you've earned less money than you really have. It's fraud. Besides, let's be serious -- if you don't hit a jackpot that generates a tax form, you're not claiming winnings on your tax return anyway, so why bother pulling your card?

Another reason players might pull their cards is to make the casino think they are a bigger loser than they really are. Bigger losses might lead to better comps and better offers, but these are usually based on action, not actual win/loss. Perhaps in the days when hosts had more discretion over the comps they wrote, a larger loss might have made the difference between the buffet and the coffee shop, but not so much today when comps are more strictly controlled.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

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