Jean Scott - Video Poker Expert
Jean Scott started out as an ordinary American, but somewhere along the way she became a beacon of hope for gamblers with limited financial means. Her first book resulted in a wave of saving-savvy individuals known as "couponomists" and "comp wizards," and her reputation as an expert has been bolstered by appearances on The Travel Channel, Discovery, 48 Hours, Hard Copy, Extra, Dateline, and To Tell the Truth.
If you'd like to know more about this gambling grandma and maybe pick up a few tips along the way, this article should be just what you're looking for. In addition to an overview of her life, I've also provided a discussion of her current books and some of her more sage advice regarding gambling. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned pro, you're bound to find something of interest in the pages below. Enjoy.
A Brief Look at the Life of Jean Scott
Jean Scott grew up the daughter of a strict minister, and gambling was always considered to be a sin in her household. Despite her old-school childhood, she and her two younger sisters still enjoyed numerous card and board games, often demonstrating a vicious competitive streak in the process.
Jean grew up and became a teacher, eventually drifting away from some of the more conservative notions that had been driven into her brain as a child. She was in her mid-30s before she learned the four suits in a deck of playing cards, but she eventually found her way to a local Indianapolis Moose Lodge and a game known as Tonk.
Tonk was similar to Gin, but the patrons of the Moose Lodge played for money. Jean found that she had a knack for the game, and, combined with her competitive nature, she was able to earn a decent amount of money.
During the early part of the 1980s, she also earned the attention of a fellow Tonk enthusiast named Brad. A former Air Force man, Brad had been gambling in one form or another since his pre-teen years, and he immediately bonded with Jean while trying to take her money.
The duo eventually fell in love and got married, and they were able to use their winnings from Tonk to purchase a condominium in Indianapolis. In 1984, they took their first trip to Las Vegas together, and their world would forever be changed by the experience
They took $1,000 to play with during the trip, and they booked the cheapest travel package available. Despite losing all their money at the slots and blackjack tables, both agreed that the excursion was a wonderful experience.
Within weeks, they were planning an eventual return to Vegas, and that's when they received an offer in the mail from the Westward Ho casino. It included three nights of free hotel accommodations, as well as complimentary food and entertainment. Jean wanted to stretch their money as far as possible, so she went to the local library and discovered a world of information regarding casino gambling.
In the early days, the couple devoted their energy to blackjack and card counting. It was never Jean's strong suit, although Brad demonstrated a talent for it. Before long, they were taking gaming junkets across the United States and to places such as Monaco and Puerto Rico.
In 1989, Brad retired from his civil service job in order to travel more. At the same time, casinos began offering superior comps to machine players instead of table gamers. During a trip to Vegas, Brad walked away from the blackjack table to take a break and wound up in front of a video poker machine. This marked a new chapter in the couple's history.
Jean became aware of slot clubs, as well as the notion that video poker machines could be beaten. She threw herself into a period of research, determined to learn everything she could on the subject of video poker. A book by gambling author Lenny Frome put them on the right path, and Brad hit his first royal flush on December 31st, 1991. Another came in December of 1992, and Jean got her first one shortly after. By the end of 1999, Brad had 94 royal flushes to Jean's 47 (with a combined total of 305 by the end of 2003).
Both Brad and Jean were retired by the late 1990s, and they began spending more and more time in Las Vegas. A friend loaned them the use of a condo, and they wound up buying their own in 1999, splitting time between Sin City and Indianapolis. A year earlier, Jean became an author by putting her knowledge of comps and coupons on the printed page, turning out the best-selling book titled The Frugal Gambler.
Jean and her husband now live in Vegas full-time, where they split their time between gambling, writing, being grandparents, and just enjoying the quieter life of a retired couple. She has authored six books to date, and budget-conscious gamblers are eagerly holding their breath for another.
Books by Jean Scott
Jean Scott never set out to be an author, but her knowledge about underreported aspects of the gambling world have allowed her to become the face for penny-pinching players everywhere. In fact, her thrifty nature has led her to be dubbed both the "Queen of Comps" and "Queen of KuPon."
In this section, we'll take a look at all the books currently available from Jean Scott. If you want to pick up a copy for yourself, you can find them at Amazon, other online brands, or at your local brick-and-mortar bookstore.
- The Frugal Gambler (1998)
With the publication of this book, Jean Scott became a well-known name among casino patrons looking to enjoy themselves while still adhering to a strict budget. Within the pages, you'll learn how to take advantage of casino promotions, stay in hotel casinos for free, and make a profit while playing video poker. In the 2005 second edition, there's an updated chapter on video poker, a new resource section, and even more coverage on gambling promotions and slots clubs. 252 pages.
- More Frugal Gambling (2003)
The long-awaited follow-up to her bestselling book, Jean Scott once again shows players on a budget how to maximize their money at the casino. While her daughter Angela provides sections for casual and beginning players, Jean covers the following topics for more advanced gamblers: locating the best tournaments and promotions, the top locations for low-level advantage play, getting offers through the mail, advantages and disadvantages of slots clubs, and much more. 440 pages.
- Frugal Video Poker (2006)
This book is billed as "the most comprehensive book ever written on practicing, playing, and winning at this popular casino game." Meant for both beginners and experts, the tome covers a wide range of topics meant to increase your overall enjoyment of the game. Some subjects include: recognizing quality pay tables, new video poker machines, progressive jackpots, and taking advantage of VP promotions. 336 pages.
- The Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide
This spiral book contains 184 pay tables for a total of 37 different video poker games, as well as volatility ratings for each. While plenty of Nevada titles are covered, the guide is just as handy for those planning a trip to any other American state. With dimensions of 3.5 inches tall by 7 inches long, it can easily be stowed away in a purse or back pocket for easy reference at the casino.
- The Frugal Gambler Casino Guide (2017)
This book is meant to expand on the topics covered in the first two Frugal books. If you want to lose less money while spending more time at the tables, slots, or video poker games, this book can help you accomplish your goal. A great deal of attention is paid to selecting the best games, as well as taking proper advantage of the player clubs offered by all major brick-and-mortar casinos. 352 pages.
- Tax Help for Gamblers: Poker & Other Casino Games (2015)
This is the third edition of the book meant to help gamblers navigate the often tricky requirements of the Internal Revenue Service. The following are just some of the topics covered: where to obtain tax documents online, changes in state income tax laws, dealing with winnings from fantasy sports, and the current legal issues surrounding online gambling. 167 pages.
Gambling Tips from Jean Scott
Jean Scott has been visiting casinos for decades, and along the way she's managed to transform herself into both an advantage player and something of a celebrity. The author of several books on the topic of gambling, this charming grandmother is no stranger to offering advice. For those in search of additional ammunition, take a look at these (paraphrased) words of wisdom from Jean Scott.
- When playing table games at the casino, always choose the ones that are most crowded. These games offer a slower pace, allowing you to get in more entertainment time.
- Don't expect to earn a living from gambling. Make sure you have a dependable job in order to take care of life's basics, and only gamble with expendable income.
- Even though a game might have a high house edge, you should still consider it as an option if it allows you to kill a significant amount of time. Scott uses keno and its 25% to 30% edge as an example. Despite the rather undesirable advantage enjoyed by the house, the live version plays out at a slow enough rate to only drain a couple of dollars per hour (assuming you're betting $1 per game). This is definitely a frugal strategy, but that's the whole point.
- If you have a favorite casino option, always stick with the best bets for that specific game. For example, never play the American roulette wheel when its European counterpart is available. Another example is craps, where odds and pass-line wagers offer less than a 1% house edge. You might sacrifice some variety with this strategy, but your long-term success rate should improve as a result.
- Never be embarrassed about using coupons. Casinos make these items available to draw in customers, so you're just giving them exactly what they want. And once you've received the benefit of the coupon, don't be shy about leaving whenever you feel like it.
- If you want to get better at a game, don't be afraid to study. Not all blackjack players, for example, have the time and patience to master card counting. However, anyone should be able to memorize blackjack basic strategy, and this simple technique is certain to reduce the casino edge to less than 1%.
- Another way to slow your pace of play involves bill acceptors. Instead of feeding your money in this fashion, convert it into coins and do it the old-fashioned way. This takes longer and allows you to savor the experience of gambling more thoroughly.
- Casinos sometimes run promos that fall on the same days, which gives the smart player an opportunity to piggyback such offers. According to Scott, she and her husband were once able to play at a casino and take advantage of monthly, weekly, daily, and out-of-towner promos all at the same time.
- If you find that a certain denomination machine is gobbling up your money too fast, perhaps it's time to drop down to a lower level. While nobody likes to admit that they can't afford a certain machine, a bruised ego is much cheaper than what you'll wind up losing otherwise.
- It's prudent to invest in yourself. Once you've received a big payout, don't start thinking of ways to immediately spend it. Instead, consider putting it back into your existing bankroll. This should allow you to graduate to games with a higher denomination, and, therefore, potentially bigger payouts.
- Look for games with a low house edge. While you might be partial to a game like video keno, its 8% house edge is bound to eat your bankroll alive over time. Instead, try an option like video poker, as the house edge is often in the 1% range (or less).
- If you have casino coupons that have expired, resist the temptation to throw them into the trash. Instead, ask the casino if they're willing to extend the expiration date. In most cases, they'll be happy to do so in order to gain your patronage.
Jean Scott is a perfect example of how anyone can become successful at gambling if they're willing to put in the time and approach the hobby with realistic expectations. This frugal style isn't going to appeal to those intent on winning sports cars and other luxury items, but practitioners are likely to be playing long after more ambitious types have crashed and burned.