How to Make the Most of Casino Comps
A trip to the casino can be a fun part of any vacation. While casinos are a looking to take your money, many also give away a surprising amount. While they may not give back in the form of cash, there are opportunities if you know how to take advantage. Complimentary items, or comps as they’re often referred to, are free things that the casino gives you. Comps can be anything from free drinks, meals, rooms, to even concert or show tickets. Don’t confuse this for generosity. The sole purpose of these comps is to get you to come back to the casino to give them more of your money. But if you are savvy to how it works, comps can make a good trip even better.
First off, let’s take a quick look at how comps work. Every casino handles their comps differently, but the only thing that you really need to remember is “average bet per hour.” This is the basis for most casino comps. There are some other factors that may come into play such as how much money was brought to the table, but average bet per hour is almost always the key. In most cases, the guy playing the table minimum for a few hours will get better comps than the guy that blows $1000 in 20 minutes or the guy that wins one big hand and walks away.
Always Use a Player’s Card
Make sure that you give the casino your player card before you give them your first dime. There is usually a kiosk or counter to issue or replace player cards. Make this your first stop once you step onto the casino floor. Most slot machines will have a place to insert your card. If you are playing table games, give your card to the dealer, who will give it to the pit boss to start tracking your play.
At table games, some casinos have the ability to go back and give you credit for the time you’ve played, but this isn’t always a given. On slot machines, there is no way to go back and claim any time that you missed. Also, at the tables, make sure that any rebuys (exchanging cash for chips) you make are put into the system. This does not always affect comps, but it comes in handy if you need to get a win/loss statement for taxes at the end of the year.
Don’t Try to Play for Comps
Comps may seem like free stuff from the casino, but unless you are exceptionally lucky, you’ve more than likely paid for that comp a couple of times over. And if you play with the goal of earning comps, chances are you will end up paying more than the comp was worth. Treat comps like consolation prizes if you lose and bonuses if you win. They’re nice to get, but should not be your main focus.
Play Where You get the Most
Concentrate your playing time at the casino that gives you the best comps. Some casinos are notoriously stingy when it comes to giving comps, while others are willing to give you whatever it takes to get you in the door. It only makes sense to play where you are being rewarded for your loyalty. And if you are staying in a casino hotel, unless the games are really not going your way, then that is the casino where you should playing. This increases your chances of receiving comps. If you can’t find a room at your favorite casino, then try to find a casino that shares the same rewards program.
Tip: Many of the casinos on cruise ships are linked to land based casinos. If the ship you are on is linked to a casino that you visit, make sure that your play is being tracked.
Take Advantage of Gifts
Casinos will often give away free gifts as a way to entice you into coming back to visit. These gifts can be anything from a knife set to a free cruise. Sometimes the gifts may be restricted to a certain tier of player’s card, but normally you will receive a flyer or email that will tell you what gifts you qualify for. These gifts are an easy comp to take advantage of and can be a real incentive to visit the casino again. If the gifts are big enough, it may be worth scheduling your trip around the gift give away.
Slot Machines and Tables Game Comp Differently
One thing to keep in mind when you’re at the casino is that comps earned at slot machines may be calculated differently than comps earned at table games. Every casino comps differently, but in general, slots will earn comps faster than table games. However, this can be misleading at times. So, while a casino may comp a slot player more free play (free money to be played in the casino) and allow them to move up tiers faster, they may offer better free rooms and meals to a table player.
Use Comps Before They Expire
Casino comps and players’ card tiers are like airline frequent flyer miles in that at a certain point they expire. How long they last will vary from casino to casino, but many casinos reset with the calendar year. That is why you should make sure to use any comps you’ve earned while they’re still good, especially for casinos that you know that you don’t visit regularly. So, if you’re visiting a casino out of town, check to see if you’ve earned any free play or get a free buffet before you leave.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
I went to one of my favorite casinos years ago for a long weekend. There was a concert or some other event going on so, the room rates higher than usual. Thursday night was $70, Friday night was $300, and Saturday night was $400. I wasn’t making any huge bets, but I played pretty consistently over the 3 days. There was an older woman there that weekend and we ended up playing at the same tables a few times. On the last night she told me to make sure that I talk to the casino hostess before I checkout of my room to see if I had earned a discounted rate on my room. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so the next morning I went to see the hostess. The hostess ran my player’s card and said that she was sorry, but she could only comp me for two of the three nights. I’m thinking that they are going to comp me Thursday and Friday, which only left me paying $400 for Saturday night. Wrong. They comped Friday and Saturday night leaving me with a $70 stay for three nights. This won’t happen every time at every casino, but it’s always worth asking. That goes for any comps you think you may have earned.