What’s the price
of slot ‘royalty?’

Feb 21, 2005 2:46 AM

Presidential, Titanium, Diamond, Big Shot, Seven Stars”¦.what does all that mean to you? Well, if you get excited just SEEING those words and your hands ever-so-slightly begin to sweat, you’ve got a problem that won’t disappear.

In the credit card industry, Diamond, Titanium and Platinum almost always mean the owners of such levels have the privilege of spending far more than others with their cute plastic cards. That bears an interesting resemblance to slot club cards issued to all the "top dogs" out there, does it not?

For instance, if you play video poker and have reached the oh-so-exalted PRESIDENTIAL level at your favorite hang out, just as with your Diamond VISA card, you walk around believing everyone else is filled with envy as they shoot a glaring stare your way. However, just as the bills pile up with that high limit, so too do the inevitable losses associated with that end-all special slot club card.

Over the years I’ve read through many gaming columns, where the one common theme that never seems to dissipate is in the writer’s apparent lust for and sense of immense self-accomplishment of having reached top tier ranking for playing slots at certain casinos. Although comical to me, these braggers enjoy slipping their status into their articles in a way that is meant to demoralize readers, while those who idolize these columnists continually spit-shine the crowns that appear to come with such nobility. Better than the rest? You decide.

Now for the truth once again, and the reason you read this column. What do all those Seven Stars, Executive, Presidential, etc. levels REALLY mean? Yes, nearly every player who holds these plastic demons has the distinct honor of belonging to a certified Addicts Club! In short, most are the biggest losers who walk into casinos day after day, and they are the most sought after players in the marketing department’s database.

So how does one go about belonging to such prestigious ranks? It’s easy, and all you need to start with is large fresh wads of cash obtainable, appropriately, from any means possible. Then you need to frequent certain casinos and fire the hundred-dollar bills non-stop into the hungry feeders. The more often you do that the faster you will reach paradise.

But wait, there’s even more! Many places require these revered players to CONTINUE such rabid play by the month, by the quarter, or by the year in order to RETAIN royalty. And having been such a bozo in the distant past during my ”˜expert-play’ years, the VIP attention associated with those long hours spent inside all those casinos makes even the biggest heads larger. That’s why read what you read and see what you do on TV these days”¦”¦”¦

I know I know. Right about now you’re thinking about all the ”˜freebies’ these people get. Well, if you get suckered into listening to the clique of self-proclaimed ”˜advantage players’ who ”˜lurk’ around the Las Vegas scene filling us all with their words of wisdom, you’d think all they do is win win win, and then get soooo many things for free that it would make your head spin clean off. But guess what?

Why do you think no video poker players are ever barred from playing anywhere for this so-called "playing with an edge"? Even card-counting Black Jack players, who struggle against fatigue, inept co-players, and a tiny enough theoretical advantage that usually makes the effort not worth the time, get tossed regularly. And there’s all these TRACKED video poker players who are allowed to beat up the casinos while taking them for every giveaway known to man — and WRITE about it all? Not so difficult now, is it”¦..

The next time you go to a slot club, ask some of the things I at times do if you have any doubts. Ask if those players who’ve reached ”˜the top’ and flash their special cards all over the place, strike fear into management whenever they sit down to play during 6X point days, double royal promotions, special gift giveaway bonanzas, cash-blast handouts, so-called ”˜lucrative’ bonus periods, or when progressives get sky high.

Maybe you’ll be expecting to hear something like this: "These savvy advantage players who come in during periods or promotions and/or respond to mailers which theoretically increase machine payoff to at least 103% beat the pants off of us every time we run these things, but our casino manager doesn’t mind taking a loss and/or giving up his personal bonus." "Further, our property’s yearly budget incorporates an expected loss in cash, comps, and freebies to these people, but we, as caring citizens of the community, gladly give it up to them regardless of cost, simply because the math models SAY it should be that way."

Returning to the real world, you all know about those billboards advertising hundreds of dollars in free-play awaiting all the big deal players around town, and why they’re there. How’s this for a guess: Could it possibly be that the more one plays the more one loses, and playing video poker to attain special membership status is a method all the marketing departments use to rope in all the overly compulsive players out there?

Now it’s time to take a good look at yourself and why you do what you do when you play at the casinos. The age-old question: ARE YOU INTERESTED IN WINNING MONEY (which, by the way, is the reason people gamble), OR ARE YOU ONE WHO LIKES TO BLAB TO OTHERS ABOUT YOUR SLOT CLUB STATUS? Common sense sure makes sense, doesn’t it.