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Best of John Grochowski

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Nongaming tips

27 May 2008

Once every three weeks, I head into the studio at WBBM-AM in Chicago to record my next six "Beat the Odds" tips. Most deal with odds and strategies, but my producer, Jim Mulvaney, tells me his favorites are the quirky ones about casino culture, comps and the like.

So let's stray from the beaten path a bit, and take a walk down the non-gaming strategy side of life in the casinos.

** Anyone who's played casino table games long enough has seen something like this happen. The player next to me asked the pit boss to comp a dinner buffet for two. The pit boss checked the computer, and said the player didn't yet qualify. When the player asked how much more play it would take, the pit boss said, "About an hour."

I don't know how much the player lost in the next hour, but it was at least a hundred dollars. I know, because I saw that hundred come out of the wallet when he ran out of chips. But he got the comp, worth about $25 for the two buffets.

Here's the tip: Understand that there's risk involved in playing more than you'd planned, even for an extra hour. Sometimes you're just better off to pay for your own buffet.

** A coin cup left upside down on a slot machine screen or over the slot handle used to be a universal sign: The machine was in use, and the player would be right back.

Now both handles and coin cups are disappearing, and players taking a short break are using other signs: It's common to see a chairback tipped up against a machine.

Here's the tip: Ask the slot attendant or other players to hold your machine while you take your SHORT break. In a pinch, tip the chair. Do not leave items of value such as keys or a wallet on the machine, and do not leave credits on the screen. Those aren't a KEEP OFF sign, they're an invitation for the unscrupulous to help themselves.

** Several years ago, a security director at a major Las Vegas casino told me there was a special category for people who would faint or feel woozy: They had "Las Vegas disease." In the infirmary, the customer would be asked, "When did you last sleep? When did you last eat? How much have you had to drink?"

Here's the tip: It's easy to slip into hyper-vacation mode once you land in Las Vegas. But don't ignore basic needs. Sleep remains essential even in a 24-hour party city. There are plenty of restaurants in any casino resort, and make at least some of those drinks bottles of water. Las Vegas is in the desert, after all.

** In Las Vegas once, a player sat down at the table where I was playing and tried to catch the floor supervisor's attention to request a meal comp. "Hey Floor!" he practically screamed. "Floor! Over Here!" The dealer said quietly, "His name's Rich." The player ignored her, and yelled again, "Hey! Floor!" Rich took his time in turning down the comp.

Here's the tip: There's nothing wrong with asking for a comp, but be polite. I don't know if the player in question had enough play to merit the comp he was after, but he'd have been better off to ask the dealer the supervisor's name, and to ask to see him. Why give the supervisor an excuse to turn down a borderline case? A little courtesy goes a long way.

**Las Vegas is a city full of bargains, if you know where to look. For my money, one of the most valuable is free valet parking at the casinos on the Strip.

I usually rent a car in Las Vegas, and rather than self-park in one of the massive garages, I'll drop the car off with the valet, and usually be much closer to the casino entrance than if I self-parked.

Here's the tip: Valet parking is handy for casino hopping, too. Drop the car off with the valet at Treasure Island, for example, and you cut down on your walks to the Mirage, Harrah's and other center-Strip properties. Just tip the valet a couple of bucks when you pick up your car.

** Casino hosts are there to make sure the casino's best customers are rewarded with complimentary meals, rooms, show tickets and such to keep them coming back. That doesn't mean they can give you a comp every time you ask for one.

Your play will determine when you're eligible for comps. Hosts do have some discretion to award comps above your player rewards points, but still have to use your play as a guideline.

Here's the tip: When you ask a host for a comp, be flexible. You may not get free show tickets this time, but the host might be able to upgrade your seat location or comp you dinner after the show. Don't take an all or nothing attitude — go with the flow.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski