Successful card counting is done in secrecy. You want as little attention as possible when counting so that the casino doesn’t catch on.
Ideally, you’ll look like a non-descript gambler who’s facing a house just like everybody else. But this incognito goal is at odds with one of the most-enjoyable parts of gambling—comps!
The player’s club offers comps that’ll boost your bottom line. You can enjoy everything from cashback to free drinks through the player’s club. Moreover, you could supplement card counting winnings with these freebies.
Should you sign up for the loyalty program if you’re a card counter? The following guide covers important aspects to consider when making this decision.
Card Counters Like Anonymity
Contrary to popular belief, casinos can’t have you thrown in jail simply for counting cards. It’s not illegal in any jurisdiction to gamble with a legitimate advantage.
Outside of Atlantic City, though, casinos do have the right to refuse service to any player. They’re especially apt to refuse service if you’re an advantage gambler.
Most gambling establishments take things a step further by also banning suspected card counters. This process becomes easier when they have identification.
This is why you should do everything possible to camouflage your counting skills and remain anonymous. By doing so, you stand a better chance of making profits without getting kicked out and banned.
Player’s Clubs Force You to Give Identification
The great thing about loyalty programs is that they offer many types of interesting rewards. Fine dining, buffet passes, hotel stays, nightclub passes, and limousine transportation are just some of the potential benefits.
The downside to player’s clubs, though, is that they require lots of information. You’ll need to fill out an application either online or at the player’s desk.
The application process ensures that a casino gives rewards to the right person. However, it also helps the casino by providing a way to identify advantage gamblers.
To get rewarded at a blackjack table, you must give the dealer your player’s club card. The dealer will hand your card to the pit boss.
This immediately becomes a problem because the pit boss looks for potential advantage players more than anybody else. They’re also the one rating your play and deciding how many rewards you deserve.
You might still get away with counting cards and scoop rewards in the process. However, the player’s club presents problems on two fronts:
It forces you to give up personal information.
It causes the pit boss to begin watching your play at the start of a session.
Card Counting Works Best With Hit & Run Sessions
Movies like 21 and The Hangover give off the wrong impression about card counting. They make it seem like an advantage gambler sits at the table all night making thousands of dollars without anybody being the wiser.
Long-time successful card counters know better than this. They normally use hit-and-run sessions, whereby they only play 1-2 shoes at a particular table before leaving.
This approach gives casino staff members less time to scrutinize your play. It also makes you less recognizable because you’re in and out faster.
Assuming you’re using hit-and-run sessions, then the player’s club won’t contribute as much to your success. It may even slow you down and waste time.
After all, you’ll need to sign up for loyalty programs at different casinos. You’ll also have to give the dealer your player’s club card at the start of a session and wait to receive it at the end.
Card Counting Profits Are Better Than Loyalty Rewards
If you’re stuck between deciding on the player’s club and card counting wins, then the latter is far more lucrative. As a good counter, you stand to win thousands of dollars over time. Loyalty rewards are peanuts by comparison.
Here’s an example to show how much you’ll earn through card counting versus rewards:
You bet $10,000 total at a blackjack table.
You have a 1% edge through card counting.
10,000 x 0.01 = 100
You earn $100 in card counting profits.
The casino offers a 0.05% blackjack comp rate.
10,000 x 0.0005 = 5
You receive $5 worth of comps.
Consistency is the only advantage that the player’s club has in this case. You’ll always collect rewards regardless of if you win or lose at the table.
Card counting profits are more volatile. Even the best counters, who have around a 1.5% advantage, will suffer losing nights.
However, you stand to win so much more money through counting alone that it makes little sense to jeopardize winnings just for free drinks and a meal.
When It Makes Sense to Seek Loyalty Rewards
The player’s club and card counting mix well in a few circumstances. Here are some situations that’ll make signing up for rewards worthwhile.
You’re a Casual Card Counter
You don’t necessarily have to be the greatest card counter just to benefit from this advantage play method. This is especially true if you’re not obsessed about gaining an edge.
Instead, you can count in a casual manner and reduce the house edge. For example, you could simply look for low cards (2-6).
More low cards coming out of the shoe means that you have a better chance of getting a natural blackjack. After all, the shoe will be richer in aces and 10’s.
As a casual counter, you might not be so obvious to pit bosses. You also won’t win as big of profits and, thus, are more likely to stay under the radar. In this case, you can still pick up rewards without drawing as much attention.
A Casino Is Running a Great Promotion
Land-based casinos run various types of promotions, many of which revolve around loyalty points. For example, a casino might give out triple loyalty points on Wednesday night.
You may not normally be interested in loyalty programs. Getting triple the amount of points, though, can be worthwhile.
Of course, you might want to capitalize on these deals at casinos where you don’t normally visit as much. This way, you can give information away while signing up and not worry as much if you do get kicked out.
You Feel That You Can Avoid Detection Anyways
If you’re an expert card counter who’s evaded detection for years, then you might feel confident enough to join the player’s club anyways.
Such situations are rare, though, because pit bosses are so good at detecting counters. If you’re sitting around collecting loyalty rewards all night, then you stand an increased chance of drawing heat.
Some casinos, however, are more lenient towards potential advantage players. They may not immediately hassle you, which means that you’ll have more time to collect rewards.
Permanent Ban Issues
The biggest issue card counters face is getting permanently banned from casinos. If you don’t have anywhere to play, it doesn’t matter if you’re a good card counter or not.
If the casino knows exactly who you are it’s easier for them to ban you. This is the number one reason why the best card counters don’t usually sign up for rewards clubs.
The other thing to think about is that some casino owners have more than one casino. So if you get banned at one casino you might end up getting banned from others owned by the same company. It’s just not worth taking this chance in most cases.
If you’re serious about counting cards, then you’ll normally want to skip the rewards. After all, card counting is more lucrative than comps any day.
But you might still consider the player’s club in rare cases. Assuming you’re not worried about getting kicked out of a particular casino, then you should join the loyalty program.
You may also consider doing so when lucrative promotions are running (e.g. 3x points) or you’re so great at camouflaging that you have no fear.
If you’re like many other card counters, though, who are just trying to make some money without getting caught, then you can live without the comps.
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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