Welcome to the club!

Oct 23, 2006 4:12 AM

Question: What little piece of plastic is so overwhelmingly infatuating that those who collect as many as possible worship them even more than a wallet full of high-limit credit cards? Answer: the slot club card. And if you play video poker and don’t have one, you’re simply an unintelligent square.

We’re all guilty of not thinking whenever someone waves something supposedly too good to be true in front of our eyes. And as much as regular video poker players absolutely hate to admit this, their little collection of colorful slot club cards has cost them far more than they realize.

I think everyone’s intelligent enough to know the undeniable truth about slot club cards by now. They are the reasons behind the multi-millions of mailers that go out every year with spectacular offers of comps, freebies and cash.

They are also the sole reason behind all the billboard specials and promotions that overwhelm local players 24 hours a day every day of the year.

Those like me who do not deny the incredible compulsion created by these slot club cards do exist. One such savvy individual was recently showcased in a column by Liz Benson of the Las Vegas Sun. In her piece, we learned of a Philadelphia mortgage broker’s crusade to even the odds between player and casino when it comes to the loyalty cards.

Specificially, Liz chronicles the unusual efforts made by Bill Kearney for the past two years in attempting to get the Pennsylvania authorities to require casinos send out monthly win/loss statements to all who choose to sign up and receive a slot club card. The state will soon be opening multiple casinos, and it is Kearney’s goal to make this a requirement in order to curb the problem gambling element that so easily affects those who rely on their loyalty cards.

A past high roller in Atlantic City who has since recognized his problem with gambling, Kearney’s proposal is obviously annoying casino execs everywhere. Since all casinos will send out yearly statements to those who ask in writing (and there are even some who will do it at anytime) I don’t expect to see this come to pass. However, his point is being made.

Kearney is an individual gambler who openly admitted in Liz’s column to losing much of his successful life to gambling. Whether slot club cards had a majority role or not, he has tied the two together in a very compelling way. As someone who wholeheartedly agrees with him that all those little slot club cards do is attract your bank accounts to the casinos, I have no doubt of his sincerity in his quest.

In my case and as a 9-year professional gambler who has very successfully played video poker for a living, I could not agree more. While I do utilize my colorful array of little demons at many of the machines I play, I’ve learned to master the art of doing it how, when, where, and why I choose to do so. You’ll never see me chase promotions with a wad of cash obtained from anywhere that I can get it, and I always play on my schedule without any influence whatsoever.

It’s one thing to go in, sit down, and play a machine with a win or loss goal and then leave. You get whatever points you earned, and so be it. It’s a far different thing to sit there as a pawn of the casino with the sole purpose of chasing the temptation they strategically laid out before you, while you are completely mesmerized into piling up as many points in order to continue to be a resident of fantasyland.

Mr. Kearney seems to have had the right idea at the wrong time. From experience, he knows the true fate of being roped in to playing promotions. He knows how embarrassing it would be for casinos to be required to send out monthly win/loss statements to players, because the overwhelmingly majority of those would be reports on losses. Maybe he’s alluding to practicing that which I always promote: simple common sense. It does work.