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Pulling a players' club card30 March 2011
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,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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