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25 August 2016
By John Grochowski
There’s something about comps that brings out the curiosity in casino players.
Among the most frequent questions I receiver are “Can you get comps without actually risking any money?” and “Can you work it so you get comps that are worth more than your losses?”
I’ve tacked the first question a few times, and the answer to is an emphatic “no.” If you’re not betting and not having your play tracked, you don’t get comped. And players who think they have a no-risk comp system by betting opposite sides of a proposition are fooling themselves.
As discussed before, if two players bet opposites such as red/black in roulette, pass/don’t pass in craps or banker/player in baccarat, the wagers don’t precisely balance. When you bet opposites, the house retains its edge, you can never have a winning session and you pay for your comps.
As for the second question, for many years the primary games for players attempting to gain more in comps than they lose at the games have been blackjack and video poker. Those are games with elements of skill large enough that you can play against an edge smaller than the house thinks it has.
Casinos recognized that long ago, and have put up hurdles that are tough for comp hustlers to clear. I discussed that in regards to blackjack in a recent readers mail column. Casinos assume a lower house edge against average blackjack players than they once did. When casinos assumed a house edge of 2%, a blackjack basic strategy player facing a half-percent edge had a big opportunity to gain via comps. Now that casinos assume a 1% edge or less, the opportunity has diminished.
That doesn’t mean opportunity has disappeared. Some comp hustlers still find gain in making their big bets while supervisor or watching and in tipping dealers in an effort to have their estimated average bet marked as bigger than it really was.
In video poker, casinos have fought back against skilled players by eliminating or restricting comps to those who play the highest-payjng games. On my regular rounds is a casino that gives free play in the amount of 0.2% of play to slot players, 0.1% to most video poker players, but only 0.01% to those who play its collection of 99%-plus payback games.
If all video poker games are comped equally, there is some opportunity. Another of my frequent haunts awards video poker players one point for each $8 wagered. You can redeem 100 points for $1 in free play. That means video poker players get back 0.125% of their wagers.
If you’re playing 9/6 Jacks or Better, which returns 99.54% with expert play, the added free play takes the payback percentage to 99.66%. If your game is Not So Ugly Deuces Wild, which pays 99.73% to experts, the added free play makes it 99.85%.
A triple points day in the system described pushes cash back to 0.375% and boosts total payback past 100%. At 9/6 Jacks or Better, a 5x points day will do it.
Those who are really serious about making point play profitable look beyond basic payback percentages plus free play to progressive jackpots, direct mail offers, tournament invitations, drawings and other promotions. It’s worth watching your casino mail to see what your play brings beyond point redemption.
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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