The price of perks

Nov 16, 2004 12:13 AM

We all like to get something for nothing — especially the throngs of video poker players, who are known to bang away almost endlessly in search of the very elusive pot of gold at the end of that long-term rainbow. I myself have, in the distant past, looked at the various, extremely enticing casino promotions as some sort of tangible bonus or reward for my loyalties towards any number of different properties.

Indeed, they are all very tempting. You always go in with eyes wide open, but when you depart you’re usually left wondering where in the world those new set of blinders came from. Please pay close attention today, and maybe, just maybe, you won’t fall into the same trap as so many players find themselves being roped into all the time. Slot club promotions are THE most powerful tool of the casino. Keep that undeniable fact with you as you read on.

Promotions come in so many forms, and there’s good reason for that. For one, there is so much competition around casino towns for the all-important local dollar that it is, at times, a demanding task just to keep up with everything that’s going on. For another, the marketing people are paid to be the creators of new and exciting offers all the time, and as long as they continue to tantalize the wispy dreams of video poker players, their jobs will stay.

So what is the real purpose of these numerous promotions, and just who is it that they benefit? Many people feel the promotions are put in place as some type of reward to their regular players, and therefore during any given promotion the chance to take home the cash is that much easier. Let me tell all you folks who get this feeling: get real! You’re a customer and that’s all. The ONLY reason they allow you in their doors at ANY time is for the sole purpose of taking as much money from your account as possible and depositing it into theirs.

There’s also a faction running around who, whenever they obtain cash by any means possible, chase every promotion they can find. They have no loyalty anywhere, and will play at casinos near or far if they perceive the promo was put in place "just for them." Yet this is the same bunch of players who will, at the drop of a hat, put up an infuriating and ridiculous argument to management whenever they feel their beloved slot club card did not accumulate the points exactly as advertised. Cheat them out of 10 points and feel their fury, and as soon as several of the gurus get wind of it you can read their fury.

But why all the commotion over these promotions and any errors, misconceptions, misinterpretations or even some players’ resulting inappropriate behavior associated with them? First of all, since video poker players who chase such ”˜daily specials’ play far too often for their own good anyway, most of them are always financially struggling. They feel their habit owes them something, and this is their "big chance" once again. While only exacerbating the problem, as an out-of-towner I also see the added anger as I drive around on my visits. They’re not driving those junk cars for nothing folks, and they’re not exhibiting that excessive attitude because they’re confused about how to spend all their winnings.

The truth about all this can be summed up in two words: advantage players. They are words you come across all the time in this industry, and a more misleading term you will never hear. So-called ”˜advantage players’ walk around town with a big chip on their shoulders, and so much more often than not get it cleanly knocked off by their friendly local casino manager. Why? Simply because no one player — or team of players for that matter — can, ever has or ever will, without cheating, win on that particular day because they have an advantage over any casino. Casinos always hold the edge over every player who walks through their doors, and until the building shuts down, that will never change.

Advantage players take this all one-step further though, and it is only used as a justification for them to keep on playing regardless of the cost. I hear this chant all the time: "Rob, we may not win at today’s promotion, but if we keep on going to the ones that theoretically calculate out to something over 100 percent throughout infinity (it’s common to nebulously state this as "the long-term"), on the best machines and with flawless (and they always then caveat this to say "or near-perfect") play, then we SHOULD win a tiny percentage sometime down the road."

And these people think the casino marketing departments didn’t think of this long before they did? Ha! All one need do is stop and think about it. Reason it out for a moment like I have and you’ll see where the common sense in all this lies. Who out there believes casinos run promotions so that people can have a better chance at getting their money back? Who out there thinks marketing departments send out all those wonderful offers out of the kindness of their hearts? And who out there is of the opinion that any of these promos which temporarily transform a machine to a theoretical 100 percent+ game, were not put into place for the sole purpose of reeling in as many so-called ”˜advantage players’ as humanly possible?

Certainly, the people with the biggest ideas drag in the most cash, and that’s exactly what is counted on. Other players will play whether there’s a promotion on going or not. Advantage players are quick to point out that casinos make their extra money off of that group and not them. All that ends up being is an excuse for another bad day of marching to the very loud drum that the casinos around town are always beating. Follow promotions my friends, and you line casino managers’ pockets with gold. Every time.