I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

To card, or not to card. That is the question.

There is a lot of debate on the internet on whether or not one should use a player's card. As my loyal readers know, I usually fall on the side of not using one. But I realized recently that the reason I advocate not using a player's card is because I assume I am talking to professional advantage players. But many of my readers are not professionals, so it begs the question: should you use a players card or not? Like many questions the answer is... it depends. Let's look at some different types of players, and who should use a card, and who should not.

The recreational gambler.
You like to gamble, and don't count cards or do anything that might get you backed off in a casino. Of course you should use a player's card. You should sign up for every player's card you can, and try to learn as much as you can about how their system works so you can take advantage of as many freebies as possible. When you gamble you are giving money to the casino, so you might as well try to get as much of it back as you can. Pick up a copy of Comp City to aid in that pursuit. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so don't be afraid to ask. Can I get a free room, buffet comp, steak house? The worst that happens is they say no. Also, after playing ask the boss, "How much did you have as my buy-in?" Make sure to correct him if he had it wrong.

The Professional.
Just say no. I promise you will regret it. Don't do it... except when you should. If I am flying into Peoria to play a game worth $500 an hour, I can afford pay for my own room, and I have $10 for the buffet. Professionals realize that comps are an advantage play in and of themselves. For example, say you can go to The MGM for a weekend, and get tickets for Ka, tickets for a Paquiao fight, and they will reimburse your plane tickets (even though you live in Vegas). You can get $2,500 cash for all that. A pro is willing to give them 5 hours of high-limit break even play. That equals $500 per hour in ev right? Why would you want to mess that up by counting cards or doing something else that could get you backed off? Your ev comes from the comps, not the play.

Do not fall for the myth that you can't play as a refusal. In my interview with table games director Mike Patterson he said that 30-50% of their players are refusals. Are they looking at all of them? Of course not. Save your good name for the juicy promotions. But say you disagree. Say you use your player's card until the day you get backed off or barred. Now your name is toast everywhere. Now what are you going to do? Now you can't use your name, so... now you play as a refusal? Now you can't take advantage of a great promotion or "invitation only" event even if you wanted to. If you now are going to play as a refusal wouldn't it have been better to be one to start with and still have a good name? There are two other choices; get a legal name change, and hopefully you have learned your lesson and will keep the new name reserved for special things, or use a fake ID. I highly recommend you DO NOT use a fake ID. In the old days, pre 9/11, this was not such a big deal. Now it is a very big deal. My son has a close friend who was recently busted with a fake ID. He is 19 and stupid, and like many college kids had a fake ID so he could go drink. He was charged with a felony. I know several people who have been busted with fake IDs, and for every one of them it was a major hassle. One of them has a felony conviction. (Fortunately the 19 year old got off after spending thousands in attorney fees.)

The amateur counter or semi-pro
These are the people I hear form the most regarding player's cards. They don't play for a living, but approach counting in a serious way. They tell me, "I don't have the bankroll to play high enough for your MGM example, and comps represent a significant portion of my ev." I get it. In fact, for most of you the comps are worth more than the blackjack. But ask yourself, "what is my time worth?" With very little play at a Caesars property, or a Coast property you can get tons of free rooms in the mail. I know several people who lived in hotel rooms in Vegas for months without ever paying for a room or a meal. I know one guy who did this for about 2 years! Isn't it worth a few hours of your time to rack up these comps? Say you figure 3 days with room and food is worth $600. If you can get those comped with 3 hours play, that is $200 per hour. Your counting is probably only earning you $50 and hour. So earn the comps in a way that won't get you barred. Surely your name is worth that. You may want to add some video poker to your repertoire  Video poker is a really good way to earn comps, and get cash in  the mail. Use your card for the video poker, but when you head over to the tables play as a refusal.

The bottom line is this. Your name is valuable. Its main value is it gives you the ability to earn comps. So only use it when you are specifically using it to earn those comps.

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