Accounting for casino promos

Nov 14, 2005 1:54 AM

It wasn’t that long ago when there weren’t many promotions going on around town on such a consistent basis. Sure, some casinos had slick marketing schemes that were put in place to cover the slow times, but aside from a few locals casino specials here and there, you had to seek out certain plays if you wanted a crack at some of the extras.

Today it’s a vastly different story. From the vantage point of a video poker player, the constant promotions in and around Las Vegas can make one’s head spin clean off. To the untrained eye it looks like heaven on earth.

This is where the infamous "advantage players" come into the formula. These folks not only believe they have the advantage over casinos whenever they sit down and play a game that theoretically pays out slightly over 100% if played perfectly throughout infinity — they are absolutely certain all the promotions are continuously put in place by the casinos for the sole purpose of handing out even more free cash. It is, without a doubt, a somewhat humorous study in gross illogic.

The way I treat casino promotions is I can take them or leave them. Actually, they mean even less to me than that. I plan my casino visits around MY wishes and desires and not around casino rope-them-in deals. If I happen to be at a place with an on-going promo, then after my session is over I’ll see what it is that could come my way because of it. If there’s nothing going on then I take my profit and leave. End of story.

Why don’t I chase every triple points offer, free jacket giveaway, double royals event, card-of-the-day temptation, cruise drawing, or he-who-gets-the-most-points-wins-a-car promotion like others say they do? Well first off, I’m not that stupid and I have far better things to do with my life. But most importantly, anyone not packing a pair of sweaty gambling hands knows these events are there for no other reason than to take more money from players than the casinos usually take from them. It’s simple Gambling 101: The more you play the more you will likely lose.

But then we have this group of self-proclaimed advantage players telling me "But gee Rob, I’m not really a gambler at all”¦.I’m just a player who takes advantage of casino promotions!" Say what? You play casino games, but yet you’re not really a gambler? Huh? And it gets even funnier. Many of these people identify themselves as professional gamblers. What some people won’t do to create their own breed of feeling good.

I’ve often said that the only way to consistently beat the casinos in video poker is by understanding that you have to play exactly the opposite as the casino manager would have you play. Casinos hour. So how do they do that when times might be a little on the slow side? Right””they offer up specials and giveaways and promotions. They know that anyone and everyone who believes they own some kind of an advantage because of the promotion will come in with a fresh wad of cash much larger than they usually do.

While a majority pf these players are sitting there thinking the game itself plus cash back plus this and plus that equals out to be a little more than 102% - which in their minds is making money (phantom bucks) even if they LOSE — the casino manager sits back and takes in the real money every time. Promotion chasers like to say that it’s always ”˜the other guys’ who lose all the money, but in reality, almost everyone playing at the promotion is one of the other guys.

There are times when I myself will sift through my casino mail and line up a trip that’s specifically for stopping at certain casinos just to get the gift, the cash offer, the freebie or the free-play. But there’s only one smart way to handle these offers, and I do it every time: Stop in, check in if necessary, pick up the free gift or cash, flush the exact amount of free-play through the machines and no more, and then LEAVE. Does the casino manager expect you to do that? Nope. Does he WANT you to do that? Definitely not.

So what’s the rule to follow if you want to be successful in your video poker endeavors? Yes, continue doing exactly the opposite as the casino manager expects you to do and you will consistently come out ahead. Had you been weak-kneed enough to go down the street and play for as many of those triple points as you could stay awake for, it’s likely the casino execs would be doing whatever they could do just to keep you going long enough to see the last bill come out of your wallet.

The competition is such in Las Vegas and in other gaming towns that video poker players have an inordinate amount of choices that will satisfy their craving for playing the game at a perceived advantage. Intelligent players, however, are far too savvy to be taken in by all the hype and the theoretical numbers that mean absolutely nothing if one doesn’t actually win real money.

Smart players just aren’t reeled in by special deals or too-good-to-be-true promotions. If you can remember that the only reason the event is being held is to get more of your money each and every time, you’re on your way to success. There’s no harm in playing during a promotion or giveaway if you just happen upon it. But beware of the hook. Video poker is already the most unforgiving of games. Why give it a bigger advantage?