How to milk casino comps
and my exclusive Comp Calculator
Last update: September 2019
This article tells you how to milk the casino comp system, to get more comps. If you're not familiar with comps, see my Casino Comps article first.
As a short refresher, here's how much you can expect to earn in comps:
|Comps CalculatorCasino comp policy:|
|Bet per round||House Edge||
|Play online casino games with fake money! It's better than losing real money.|
Look like you're betting more than you actually are
When you play table games your comps are based on your average bet size. The floorperson looks at how much you're betting and punches that figure into the little computer. The most important bet is the first one you make when you sit down. If you're not shy, announce the total loudly as you make the bet, making sure the floorperson can hear you. If the floorperson is still paying attention after your first bet, make your next few bets larger than average, too.
One of my favorite tricks is to put a big bet out while the dealer is shuffling, then reduce it right before the first card is dealt. The floorperson might catch that larger bet during the few minutes of shuffling time, but I don't actually have to risk that much.
Finally, make your last bet big, too. When you cash out, the floorperson might ask the dealer how much you've been betting, and your last bet will be freshest in her mind.
Of course, the Cardinal Rule of Gambling takes precedence here: Never bet more than you can comfortably afford to lose!
Slow it down
On table games, your expected loss is based on your average bet size times how many rounds per hour you're expected to play. So play fewer rounds than they expect. Casinos typically use a single standard speed value for each game, regardless of the actual speed. For example, they may figure 70 rounds an hour for blackjack, 48 rounds an hour for craps, etc. If you play at full tables you'll almost certainly get in fewer rounds than that. So, play at full tables!
You can also leave your chips at the table and taking a bathroom break once an hour. (Don't do this with craps—craps chips are easy to steal without the dealers noticing.) And you can sit out a round every once in a while. And you can play slowly when you do play. Of course, don't slow down so much that you annoy the other players!
Use the calculator above to see how that can benefit you. Set the speed on Craps to 30 rounds per hour, and you'll see that at a 30% comp rate, you can actually expect to earn 50% of your average losses in the form of comps.
Play smarter than they expect
When figuring your expected loss, casinos typically use a single value for the house edge for each casino game. For example 0.75% for blackjack and 1.58% for craps. You can get better odds than that, lowering your average loss, but the casino will comp you as though you had the higher average loss.
Here are house edge rates for comp purposes at one strip casino:
|True House Edge vs. Comp House Edge|
|House edge w/optimal play||House edge for comp purposes||Difference|
My calculator above uses the house edge figures from this table, rather than the actual house edge, so you can more accurately figure how much comp value you're earning—assuming you make the best bets.
Let's see an example. You're betting a total of $10,000 on blackjack (e.g., $25/hand for about six hours). The casino figures you'll lose 0.75% of that, or $75, and at a 33% comp rate, you'll earn $25 in comps. But if you play a low-edge game using proper basic strategy, the house edge might be around 0.48%, for an expected loss of only $48. You'll still get the same $25 in comps, so suddenly you're getting close to 50% comp value instead of 33%.
When you combine this method with slow play, the rewards are
Look like a loser
While comps are supposed to be based on how much you risk, whether you win or lose, casinos do tend to be more generous with the losers. So it pays to look like a loser, even if you're winning. And if you're losing, it pays to look like a bigger loser. So at table games, surreptitiously slip some chips into your pocket. You'll look like you've lost more than you actually did. This works best at full tables, which you should be playing anyway because you'll play fewer rounds per hour which means less loss, and because you'll be comped at regular speed, not at slow speed. If you're the only person at a table, the casino might figure out how much you've actually lost by looking at how much the dealer has in her rack.
This doesn't work for machine players, where your win/loss is tracked on your player's card down to the penny.
Use the casino ATM
Casinos don't just provide the games and hope you play them,
they do everything they can to get you to play more.
Even if—make that especially if—you're a problem gambler.
When people use the ATM in the casino, that's a sign that they're probably gambling compulsively. Using the ATM means they've burned through the gambling budget they brought with them and now they're withdrawing money that they weren't initially planning on touching. So casinos use ATM data to target those customers. People using the casino ATM reportedly get more and better free-room offers than those who don't. So, use the ATM in the casino to withdraw some cash (just once, so you don't rack up lots of service fees). Hell, do it in several casinos. Just don't give that money back to the casinos by gambling it away. Also, withdraw only with a debit card, never take a cash advance on a credit card. You'll get hit with a service fee either way, but with credit cards they also charge high interest, and start you the millisecond you press the button on the ATM machine.
Tip the dealers
Regardless of comps, you should tip the dealers at least $5 an hour because, like waitstaff, they make their living from tips. If you're hunting comps then there's another reason to tip: you'll get more comps. The floorperson is going to be more generous in hooking you up if you've been taking care of the dealers. Who wants to help a tightwad?
A host's job is basically to give out comps. It's a tough job because many players are jerks and treat their hosts badly. Don't be one of those people. They're hooking you up with free stuff, what's not to like? So smile, say please and thank you, and just show your appreciation in general. The nicer you are, the more likely your host will hook you up with what you want.
Note that while you should tip the dealers, you don't actually need to tip the host. (source) Since the host decides what stuff you get from the casino, tipping the host could seem like bribery and feel a bit awkward. Of course if you really want to, there's no rule against it, although some casinos do impose limits. You're always safe tipping $25 or less, either cash, a gift card, or a gift.
Don't redeem for hard merchandise
Some casinos offer products as a comp. For example, locals casinos are notorious for offering cigarettes to their players—which tells you something about the clientele they're targeting. I remember the smoke at Terrible's (now Silver Sevens) being so thick you could carve it with a chisel, and you could smell it in the parking lot before you even entered the building.
Anyway, the casino has to fork over its own cash to buy any products they give to you, whereas with buffets or free rooms their own cost is much less than the retail price. So, most casinos are more generous with their in-house comps than comps they have to buy. So, unless you're sure you're getting a good deal on products, then take your comps as the better value on food, rooms, or shows.
Without having to shell out money on books (or wait for them to arrive), here's a lengthy article on getting comps written by a whole group of well-known casino experts. It's not a substitute for the books, but it's a good continuation from this article.
Skip the Venetian and Palazzo
In February 2011 the Venetian and Palazzo made the controversial decision to stop offering comps for any but the high rollers. (LV Review-Journal) So unless you're a high roller, skip those casinos, because you won't get comps there. The Venetian had the worst slot odds of any casino in the Wizard of Odds slot survey, anyway.
Happy comp hunting!