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
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
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
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
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
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.
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