I Can Afford FREE!

Many people often inquire as to how I’m able to acquire the amount and level of comps (short for complimentaries) that I receive when I’m at a casino. How is it that I get free food, hotel rooms, show tickets, plane tickets, and even cash back mailers? In one word: Experience. Ok, ok, maybe experience and a LOT of gambling.

No, no, I’m not gambling away my mortgage payment or kid’s college fund, but I do use a portion of my disposable income for gaming purposes. I enjoy waging my hard earned income on the chance that I might double, triple or even quadruple it at the expense of the casino. But, I must admit, I do lose it 9 out of 10 times I try. Does it bother me? Not at all! For two reasons: First, I take the money with the belief that I’m going to lose it (and statistically, all games are designed for you to lose it) and Second, I get my money back in other forms. Specifically through the aforementioned comps I receive from the casino.

I will typically go online a day or two before my planned trip to whatever casino I’m about to spend my time and money at to see what their current room rates are going for on their website. If a room is going for $100+ per night, I know that I’m already “up” on the casino $600+ because that’s the cost of the hotel room I would otherwise being paying for. If I have a cash back mailer, I’m also “up” whatever the value of the cash back voucher is worth. Let’s say it’s a voucher good for $200, ok now I’m “up” $800+ on the casino because that’s $200 I can gamble with that doesn’t come out of my pocket. My fiancée enjoys eating at expensive steakhouses. Cool, we eat and when our tab for the two of us comes in at $200 (hey, quality appetizers, steak, alcohol and desserts are expensive) we charge it to the room. Upon check-out, we use our accumulated points from the players club to pay off that tab and/or get a host to “pick up the tab” for us. Now we’re into the casino for a minimum of $1000 and this is without ever better a single dollar in the casino!

Now, don’t get me wrong…a few trips where I screw the casino out of gambling and how long do you think I’ll continue receiving those types of comps? Not very long! But something that people don’t understand is that your comps are NOT predicated upon your gambling loses. The casino will offer you these complimentaries based up on your theoretical loses at the video poker/slot machines, table games, Keno lounge, sportsbook, etc. The key to receiving these future comps is through wagering. You must give the casinos a fair shot at your bankroll. But let’s be clear: A) You’re going to lose because the games are mathematically designed to ensure a casino edge over your play and B) The more you lose the more the casinos are willing to give you on future trips.

One thing that will be bashed over your head by many a-gambling pundit is “Don’t gamble more than you can afford to lose” and “Never chase comps”.  We all har this but until we experience it, it goes through one ear and out the other. I remember one time when I was at a blackjack table and wanted a comp to the buffet. I was up about $50 when I decided I wanted to ask for the comp. But I couldn’t find a pit boss to ask for said comp…so I kept playing. By the time the pit boss came around for me to ask for the buffet comp, I had not just lost my $50 winnings, the casino was into me for $50! A $100 turn around. The real kick in the crotch: The pit boss informed me it was too late into the evening and the buffet was already closed down. DOH! Had I simply cashed out, took my winnings and gone to the buffet without chasing the comp, I could have used the casinos money to pay for my meal. Instead, I lost far more of my own money (let alone giving the casino back its money) than the actual cost into the stupid buffet! Lesson learned!  That’s not to say I haven’t engaged in comp chasing since then, but now I do it with an eye toward future goals, not immediate wants like a freakin’ buffet comp!

So how did I learn all this stuff? Well, certainly experience is the best teacher. However, just like learning to drive, it helps to have some education first before getting behind the wheel of car! I really like the website www.lasvegasadvisor.com because they have a message board where you can post questions/comments/suggestions and hundreds of other more experienced gamblers than you and I will respond back with their own questions/comments/suggestions. Likewise, books are a great source of information. I really enjoy the writings of Jean Scott and her “Frugal” series.

The moral of this story: Take some time to get to know the in’s and out’s of the casino comp world and you will find that the time you spend now will pay dividends in the future with regard to all the free things you’ll earn. Trust me, the knowledge I have garnered from books and websites has long paid the cost of obtaining that knowledge. My comps are proof-positive!

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