Can You Beat Casinos Through Comps?

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Casino Comps

Casinos almost always have the advantage over players. Considering that they usually win, casinos offer comps as a means of repaying gamblers for their loyalty.

Comps include cashback, drinks, hotel stays, limousine rides, meals, and more. While these rewards are nice, they don’t make up for the house edge.

But what if you could game casinos through a combination of comps and winnings? I’ll discuss if it’s possible to come out ahead with rewards and how to gain maximum value from comps.

Different Ways to Get Comps

The first thing that you must do to qualify for rewards involves signing up for the loyalty program. Luckily, most online casinos enroll you in their VIP program as soon as you begin placing real-money wagers.

Land-based casinos, on the other hand, require that you sign up for the players club. You can complete registration either online or in person.

Once approved, you’ll receive a players club card that can be used to earn rewards on the games and purchases covered below.

Play Slot Machines

Casinos typically have the largest advantage with slot machines. Land-based venues hold anywhere from a 4% to 12% edge with slots, while online casinos feature between a 2% and 6% advantage.

Casinos dole out more rewards to slots players, because they make the most money off these games. Generally speaking, they offer between a 0.1% and 0.3% comp rate on overall play.

Here’s an example:

  • A casino features a slots comp rate of 0.2%.
  • You bet $5,000 total.
  • 5,000 x 0.002 = $10 worth of rewards

The rate that a casino offers will differ based on your playing volume and loyalty status. Generally, online and land-based casinos only offer a 0.1% comp rate when you begin playing.

However, you can gradually increase this amount to 0.2% or higher. Certain casinos already offer this large of a rate to differ from the competition.

You’ll earn comps from video poker machines too. Video poker typically qualifies for the same rewards rate as slots.

However, the video poker comp rate can differ when it comes to really high-paying machines. For example, Las Vegas casinos feature variations that deliver over 100% RTP.

These same casinos would lose big to skilled players if they offered a 0.1% comp rate on top of 100%+ payback. Therefore, they often reduce the rewards rate to 0.025% for such games.

If you’re playing video poker or slots in land-based casinos, you must insert your players club card into the machine to begin generating rewards. Otherwise, the only comps you can look forward to are free drinks.

Play Table Games

Table games, like baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette, also result in freebies. However, these rewards aren’t as lucrative on a per-dollar basis as what’s seen with slot machines.

Most table games feature much-lower house edges than slots. Baccarat, for example, only carries a 1.06% edge on the banker bet.

Your comps will be determined based on your play rate, bet size, and theoretical losses. Here’s an example:

  • You bet $10 per hand in blackjack.
  • 70 hands are dealt per hour.
  • 70 x 10 = $700 in total bets
  • Blackjack comp rate is 0.05% (due to lower house edge).
  • 700 x 0.001 = $0.35 in rewards per hour

Online casinos can easily track your play and distribute awards accordingly. Again, they have software that monitors every wager you make.

Brick-and-mortar casinos have a difficult time in this regard. The pit boss must briefly monitor your play rate as they make their rounds.

At the end of your session, the pit boss will determine your comps. Again, you’re probably not going to receive many rewards unless you’re betting big.

Make Other Purchases at Casino Resorts

You can also earn comps through any purchase you make at brick-and-mortar resorts. Many casinos have comprehensive loyalty programs that cover everything from dining to shopping.

You should always have your players club card on hand when making any type of purchase at a casino resort. This way, you can get some additional value out of hotel stays, meals, and shopping.

Most casinos feature detailed explanations of their rewards programs online. That said, you should definitely check out their VIP pages to see what purchases apply for comps.

Tips for Maximizing Your Comps

The gambling industry is very good at knowing how many rewards they can offer you without surrendering profits. But you can use certain techniques to boost your chances of maximizing earnings through games and rewards.

Bet More When the Pit Boss Is Looking

As mentioned before, the pit boss briefly checks on your play when you’re at the tables. They don’t have all day to focus on how much you’re wagering.

That said, you can sometimes fool them into thinking that you’re a bigger player. The key is to have perfect timing when they’re watching.

Here’s an example:

  • You begin playing mini baccarat at $200 per hand.
  • The pit boss watches your first three bets and moves on.
  • You drop your wagers to $10 after they leave.
  • You raise your bets to $200 every time they come back around to your table.
  • The pit boss rates you as a $200 gambler (20x better than a $10 player).
  • The table sees 120 hands per hour.
  • You bet on the banker every time.
  • 200 x 120 = $24,000 in wagers
  • 24,000 x 0.0005 (comp rate) = $12 in rewards per hour

Assuming that you play for several hours, you can rack up quite a bit in comps. Your rewards will also cover most/all of your theoretical losses in this case.

Here’s an example using the same variables above:

  • You wager on the banker hand every time (1.06% house edge).
  • You wager $10 per hand most of the time.
  • The table sees 120 hands per hour.
  • 120 x 10 x 0.0106 = $12.72 in theoretical losses
  • The pit boss thinks you’re a $200 player.
  • You earn the aforementioned $12 in hourly comps

This example doesn’t factor in the 2-3 hands where you must bet $200 to trick the pit boss. But it does show that you can come close to, or even exceed, theoretical losses through table-game comps.

Take Advantage of Double and Triple Points

Every casino runs promotions to encourage more play and retain their current customers. One of the most-common promos involves double and triple points on slot machines.

These deals aren’t so lucrative on actual slots, but they can bring you closer to theoretical profits on video poker machines.

Here’s an example:

  • You play 9/6 Jacks or Better.
  • This game offers 99.54% RTP with perfect strategy.
  • The normal comp rate is 0.1%.
  • However, the casino is running a triple points promotion (0.3% rate).
  • 54 + 0.003 = 99.84% RTP

You’re still just short of making theoretical profits in this example. However, you could earn money with a higher-paying video poker variation and double or triple points.

Capitalize on Deposit Bonuses

Online casinos commonly offer deposit bonuses to new and existing players. These deals are worth a match percentage of your deposit amount (e.g. 100%).

You must meet terms and conditions before withdrawing anything from these offers. The most-important term to this discussion is wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough).

Wagering requirements refer to the amount you must roll over before cashing out the bonus. Lower playthrough gives you a better chance to earn money from bonuses.

Here’s an example:

  • You deposit $100 under a 100% match deal.
  • Playthrough on the bonus is 25x.
  • 100 x 25 = $2,500 must be wagered
  • You play a slot with a 3% house edge (i.e. 97% RTP).
  • 2,500 x 0.03 = $75 in losses
  • 100 – 75 = $25 profit

You should note two important things about this bonus:

  • 25x playthrough is incredibly low.
  • Some games are excluded from meeting wagering requirements.

Most casinos feature between 35x and 45x wagering requirements on 100% match bonuses. However, you can occasionally find incredible deals with between 20x and 30x playthrough.

As for the second point, some slots and most table games offer reduced contributions towards wagering requirements. For example, blackjack normally only counts 20% towards meeting playthrough (e.g. 40x becomes 200x).

A slot with 97% RTP may be borderline in terms of if it contributes the full 100%. However, I’ve seen casinos that do allow such slots to fully satisfy wagering requirements.

Make It Look Like You’re Losing More

A pit boss may give you something extra if you’ve suffered a big losing night. The pit boss could comp your meal or even hotel stay.

You may not actually qualify for these rewards based on standard guidelines. But the pit boss’ thought process is to make sure that you don’t leave bitter and never come back.

That said, you may receive additional comps by pretending to lose more money. You can pull off this ruse by combining two methods:

  1. Excessively complaining and looking distraught.
  2. Rat holing chips.

With the first option, you complain to nearby players about your losses and look pained the entire time. You can especially ramp up these efforts whenever the pit boss is around.

Rat holing refers to when you discreetly take chips off the table and put them into your pocket. Nothing is illegal about this process, because it doesn’t technically involve cheating.

However, you still want to hide your rat holding from the pit boss and dealer. The goal is to make it seem as if you’ve lost far more chips than it appears.

Play +EV Video Poker With Comps

The absolute best way to profit off casino rewards is to play the top video poker games. Certain variations offer positive expected value (+EV).

Examples of games with over 100% RTP include:

  • Full-pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% RTP
  • Full-pay Joker Wild (Kings or Better) = 100.65%
  • Double Bonus = 100.17%
  • Double Double Bonus = 100.07%

As covered before, you’re almost guaranteed to earn reduced rewards from these machines. But any comps at all serve as a cherry on top of your other profits.

The other issue is that almost no +EV video poker exists outside of Las Vegas. Therefore, you must be in Sin City to take advantage of these games.

Will You Win Profits With Comps Included?

Up until two decades ago, comp hustling was very much alive. You could visit gambling establishments back in these days and expect really generous rewards.

The scene has changed greatly today. Casinos are much tighter with comps and keep a better eye on your play.

This isn’t to say that you can’t still game the system and profit from your rewards. But you have far fewer chances to do so.

The main ways that you can potentially earn profits with comps included are:

  • Tricking the pit boss with bigger wagers.
  • Chasing online deposit bonuses with low playthrough.
  • Playing +EV video poker.
  • Playing video poker with near +EV and double or triple points.

All these methods have their drawbacks to consider. But if you truly want to profit from comps, then you can do so under the right circumstances.

Conclusion

Comp hustling is a dated way to make money in casinos. You have to put lots of work into looking for opportunities and meticulously grinding out profits.

I use the word profits here lightly. In most cases, your winnings will come in the form of buffet trips, drinks, hotel rooms, show tickets, etc.

You may still try to suss out edges with comps involved if you truly enjoy the process. However, there are much better ways to make money in the casino.

You could play Texas hold’em, count cards, or bet on sports. These forms of gambling give you an opportunity to win long-term profits with the right skills and approach.

The only truly lucrative way to chase comps is through +EV or near +EV video poker. You’re still not going to get rich, but you can at least bank on profits if you’re good enough.

In summary, you can get close to beating the casino, or even win profits, by taking advantage of the best comp opportunities. However, you likely won’t find doing so to be worthwhile.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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