Years ago you had to be a high roller to qualify for cash and comps from a casino. Times have changed. Nowadays even the average Joe can be treated like a king if he plays his cards right. In fact, they don’t even have to be the real thing; instead, they can play the virtual ones found on a video poker machine.
Of course a casino isn’t going to offer comps and cash to everybody — you have to know how the system works to maximize your rewards. Here are some tips for bringing home the gold, that’s cash, as a result of your video poker play.
First, be aware that casinos offer several types of cash based on your play.
Slot Points: When you play video poker with your slot card inserted in the machine, most casinos allow you to redeem your points for cash. Sometimes video poker earns fewer points than traditional slots, so make sure you ask at the slot club.
Bounceback Cash: This comes in the mail and must be redeemed in person at the casino. The purpose is to get you to return to the casino, and the amount is based on past play.
Multiple Points: Your regular slot points are multiplied by an amount specified by the casino. Usually the purpose is to get more players in the casino during slow times. These are excellent deals for players, and you should take advantage of the offers whenever possible.
Special Promotions: Sometimes you have to be a frequent player or a local to qualify for cash promotions. That’s why you should read all offers that come in the mail and make sure you carefully study the fine print.
VIP Tournaments: Some invitation-only tournaments offer cash prizes.
Of course, casinos offer the highest cash rewards to the players they most want to return. Even though the math used by the number-crunchers to find this group is objective, interpreting the data is more subjective. Here are some tips for maximizing your attractiveness to a casino.
Overlapping Days: Casinos base their offers on the theoretical amount of money you’re worth to them on each of your visits. They multiply their advantage times your coin in per visit to get a ballpark figure. To inflate your average, find out the hours of their day (varies between casinos) and make sure your play doesn’t overlap into two days. For example, if their day ends at midnight and you play into the next day, then they will divide your average by two.
Triggering a Trip: Sometimes just cashing in an offer or a coupon triggers a trip. You may want to do it anyway if the offer is good enough or if you plan on playing for your usual length of time. On the other hand, if it’s a small gift, then you may not even want to use it.
Slot Card: Over and over again, players are told to make sure their slot card is inserted during play. Although this is good advice, there are a few rare occasions where you may not want to use your card.
Positive Games: If the video poker game is paying over 100 percent and is ineligible for promos and slot cash, then I may not even use my card. You would have to consider the comps, if any, and their value to you. For example, if they’re offering only free rooms and you’re a local with no need of the room, then pass on the card. That’s because if you’re only playing positive video poker games, you really aren’t valuable to the casino.
Short Session: If you’re only playing a short session, say 15 minutes, when your average is several hours, then you will reduce your average. This may result in a reduction of your monthly bounceback cash and, therefore, you’d be better off not using your slot card.
Free Tournaments: Your video poker play may qualify you for a free VIP tournament. You should participate even if the tournament is for something you’ve never played, say blackjack. Somebody will explain the rules, and the game may not even be played like the traditional one, giving you a more level playing field.
Final Thoughts: Most people value the gifts and comps offered by casinos and will even play longer than intended to qualify. The best prizes, however, are cash awards; in video poker, guaranteed cash can even be added to the game’s expected return. As a video poker player, you may not be as valuable to the casino as keno and slot players, but you can still go for the gold by playing smart.
Linda Boyd, former math educator and table game player, switched to the more profitable choice of video poker. Her book, “The Video Poker Edge,” includes free strategy cards for the games she recommends and is available in major bookstores as well as amazon.com and Square One Publishers (www.squareonepublishers.com or 877-900-2665).