THE EXPERT’S GUIDE TO COMPS

By Henry Tamburin

 

Nothing gets a player more excited then when you mention the word “comp”. Everyone wants one and the casinos are more than glad to give them (over one billion dollars worth last year). Yet, comps is one of the most misunderstood aspects of a player’s casino experience, fraught with misconceptions so that many casual players don’t even bother – which is unfortunate.  So to unravel the science and art of getting a comp, I assembled a team of experts comprised of savvy experienced players, well known gaming authors, advantage players, casino managers, and a casino host. I asked the experts for tips they would give an average casino player who asked, “How do I go about getting a comp?” 

 

Before I turn it over to the experts, let’s briefly review the basics of casino comps.

 

What is a Comp?

A “comp” is an abbreviation for complimentary. They are the free goods and services provided by the casino to its players. Comps can range on the low end to free drinks and free valet parking all the way up to free room, food, beverage and transportation.

 

What are the Requirements to Get a Comp?

The only requirement is that you gamble. Most casinos require that you bet at a certain level and play for a specific period of time in order to qualify for a comp. The more you bet and the longer you play the higher the level of comp you can expect.

 

I Thought Comps Were Only For High-Rollers?

That’s one of the misconceptions about comps. You don’t need to be a high roller to get a comp. Yes, we all know the stories about high rollers that get shuttled to and from Las Vegas on a private jet, picked up in a chauffeured stretched limo, given a luxury suite twice the size of your home, and dine in ultra-swank gourmet restaurants “on the house”. But casinos also offer valuable comps to low rollers that include free meals, free or discounted rooms, and free show tickets.

 

Why do Casinos Give Player’s Comps?

Casinos need steady customers and they know there is a lot of competition for players. Therefore they offer comps to loyal players as a reward for their business. Comps also have a way of making players rationalize their losses so they return again to the same property. Comps also stimulate players into betting at higher levels and longer because most players mistakenly believe that when they get a comp they are getting something for nothing.

 

Do I Have To Lose To Get a Comp?

This is another misconception. Comps are not based on how much you lose (or win) but on the total amount of money you’ve wagered (known as the amount of “action” you give the casino). All the casinos want is a shot at your money at their tables and machines.

 

How Do I Get a Comp if I Play the Machines?

You need to sign up for a Player’s Card and keep it inserted into the machine’s card reader while you play. The casino’s computer will keep track of how much money you play through the machine. Always make sure your card is registering properly so you get credit for your play. Also check at the Player’s Club if you are entitled to any freebies just for joining (casinos often have promotions to entice players to sign up).

 

How Do I Know How Long to Play the Slots to Get a Comp?

Casinos use to be secretive about how they rewarded comps. But nowadays the majority of casinos have brochures that tell their players how many dollars they must play to earn a point and how many points are required to get a specific comp. Nowadays, you can also find this information on most casino web sites (you can also sign up for a player’s card and keep track of your points on some casino web sites).

 

Why Should I Bother With a Casino Host When I Can Get My Comps Through the Player’s Club?

Hosts have much more discretion issuing player comps than the employees who staff the Player’s Club do. They also open a lot of “comp-doors” that most player’s don’t know about such as an invitation to a special event or getting you a room on a busy, sold-out weekend.  Hosts add a personal touch to the comp experience and you should try to establish a long-term relationship with them.

 

How Can I Reward My Host for a Job Well Done?

Hosts are not allowed to accept cash or expense gifts from players. But they can accept nominal gifts (max. $25 is a good benchmark) such as a gift certificate to a restaurant, a bottle of wine, or bouquet of flowers. A thank you card also goes a long way to cementing a relationship with a host.  Another way to show your appreciation is to send the host's boss or the casino manager a note stating what a good job your host does for you. Sending a host new customers is also another way to show your appreciation.

 

Can I Carry Over My Earned Comps from One Trip to the Next?

Most casinos allow players to accumulate their comp dollars and then spend them on one big meal or event. But others do not (you must spend your earned comp dollars during your current trip). It’s best to get the specific casino requirements on earned comps from the Player’s Club literature or from a casino host.

 

How Do I Get a Comp if I Play the Tables?

You must ask to be ‘rated’ when you play in the pits in order to be eligible for a comp. Getting rated means the pit boss or floor supervisor will keep track of the hours you play and your average bet size. In some casinos you can use your Player’s Card to get rated while others issue a different rating card for table players. If unsure just inquire at the Players Club or ask a casino host. When you sit down to play just slide the card to the dealer with your buy-in and the dealer will hand it to the floor supervisor, who will begin the rating process (in some casinos the dealer has a device on the table that she uses to swipe your card to initiate the rating process). 

 

If I’m a Table Player, How Much Do I Need to Bet and For How Long to Get a Comp?

Each casino has a different policy when it comes to giving comps for table players. Some casinos that cater to high end players require a minimum of $25 bets to even be considered for comps while other casinos will gladly rate nickel players. My advice is to first call the casino’s marketing department and speak to a casino host about table game playing requirements for rating and comps. This way you’ll know the casino’s requirements and there won’t be any surprises.

 

Does the Amount of my Buy-In and Whether or Not I Win or Lose Have Any Bearing on My Comps?

Even though floor supervisors on table games will record that information on a player’s rating card, they do not enter into the equation for comps (see Comp Equations). However, more than one casino supervisor has added this caveat.  If a steady customer has a disastrous session where the losses far exceed the casinos theo (or theoretical loss - see equations), the player is often given an additional comp above what the comp equation would compute for his play. Also, casino managers look more favorably on players who buy in for say $500 rather than $100 simply because they perceive that they have a shot at a larger amount of the player’s money.

 

Should My Souse and I Get a Joint Account or or Separate Accounts?

If you’re a low roller it’s best to get two cards on the same account. This way your play and that of your spouse will accumulate points faster toward a comp. If both partners do a lot of playing, then it’s best to get a slot card in both names (both will earn separate comps).

 

Besides Comps What Else Should I Expect From the Casino for My Play?

It depends on the casino but besides comps you might get mailings offering you free show tickets or even an entry into a tournament or other special event. Many casinos also reward their slot and video poker players with cashback (or bounce back). Cashback is cash that you can get immediately after your play and it is based on a percentage of your action (see comp equations). Bounce back is a coupon you’ll receive that will allow you to receive cash on a subsequent visit. In lieu of giving a player directly cash some casinos will give a player credit on a slot or video poker machine (via a PIN) which the player must play through.

 

What Can I do if I don’t have Enough Points for a Comp?

If you don’t have enough play for a free room, you should ask for a discounted rate (known as the casino rate, which is usually 50% of the published rack rate for a room). Likewise if you don’t have enough play for a buffet comp, ask for a line comp. This will allow you to go ahead of the line of folks waiting to get into the buffet, café, or show theater. This is also a good time to speak with your casino host to see what other options you might have.

 

Can I use the Points Acculmulated at one Casino Property at another Property Owned by the Same Company?

In most cases, yes. Harrah’s, Mandalay Resorts, Park Place Entertainment, and Stations Casinos to name a few have Megaclubs. As more casinos become owned by the same company, this trend will continue.

 

Are Their Any Tricks of the Trade to Getting More Comps Faster?

Yes, and your about to read a bunch from our experts.

 

Are Their Any Downsides to Comps?

Most players are envious of other players who get “comped”. These players play right into the casino’s hands because by betting more and longer then they intended in the pursuit of a comp, most players with end up losing more then the comp was worth. Never play longer or bet more for the sake of a comp. Just learn how to use the system to get your fair share of comps for your normal play.

 

 

                                                            (Sidebar)

MEET THE EXPERTS

* All names with an asterisk are also casino gambling columnists

 

Mr. Pit Boss

Casino employee with a decade of experience in the casino industry. Contributor to the Blackjack Insider newsletter (www.bjinsider.com)

Steve Bourie *

Author 2003 American Casino Guide (www.americancasinoguide.com)

John Brokopp *

Author Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling

Bill Burton *

Author Get The Edge at Low Texas Hold’em. Gambling guide for About.com

Jeffrey Compton *

Author Guide to Slot Clubs. Featured in several slot/slot club videos

Anthony Curtis *

Publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, author of Bargain City  (www.lasvegasadvisor.com)

Bob Dancer *

Author of Million Dollar Video Poker. Featured in several video poker instructional videos & WinPoker software (www.bobdancer.com)

Winnie Grand *

Advantage video poker player.

John Grochowski *

Author of several books including The Slot Answer Book, The Video Poker Answer Book, and The Craps Answer Book.

Skip Hughes *

Host www.vphomepage.com.

Bart Pestrichello

V.P. Operation, Sunset Station Casino, Las Vegas

Mickey Petkus

Casino host, Palms Casino, Las Vegas

LV Pro

Advantage blackjack player and contributor to Blackjack Insider Newsletter(www.bjinsider.com)

Max Rubin *

Author Comp City

Frank Scoblete *

Author of many books including Forever Craps: The Five Step Advantage Play, Guerilla Gambling: How to Beat The Casinos at Their Game, and Break The One Arm Bandits (www.frankscoblete.com)

Jean Scott *

Author of Frugal Gambler (and soon to be released More Frugal Gambler) and featured in Frugal Video Poker software program (www.frugalgambler.biz)

Barney Vinson *

Author of several books including Ask Barney, An Insiders Guide to Las Vegas, Casino Secrets, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas.

 

 

 

 

THE EXPERT’S TIPS

 

Max Rubin (author/columnist)

1.        Join. To know you is to comp you. If you want the casino to know who you are, join the club. After you're in with the in-crowd, you'll get more offers in the mail than you can believe (and want, sometimes). They want your bankroll and no matter how small you think it may be, you'll be amazed at the stuff that comes your way once they know who you are.
2. Play. Casinos aren't interested in folks who don't gamble. You don't have to bet a lot (but probably like to anyway-or you wouldn't be reading this magazine) to get nice offers, but you'll have to show a little speed up front for them to invite you back.
3. Ask. If you don't ask for a comp while you're playing, they probably won't offer. Don't be afraid. They get asked 100's of times each week and all they can say is "No." If they deny you (no matter how outrageous the request), ask them how much more you have to play to earn the comp you want. Buffets are easy, but it normally takes some serious machine and table time to qualify for rooms and gourmet meals.
4. Tip. When you hit a jackpot, make sure to give the cashiers and floor people a little something when they fork over the cash. If you're on table games, an occasional small bet for the dealers usually does the trick. Virtually all of the comp decision makers (pit bosses and slot hosts) depended on tips for their livelihood at one point in their careers and if you're a stiff, they'll never give you an even break.
5. Be Nice. Friendly people get easy room upgrades, bountiful buffets and lots of personalized attention while the Jerks rarely get what they've got coming-unless you believe in Karma.

Jean Scott (author/columnist)

1. The number one way to get comps is to join the slot club before you play any casino game. Then put your card in any machine you play and starting earning points that will get you comps. If you play the tables, give your slot club card to the dealer before you make your first bet. He will give it to the pit boss, which will track your play and be able to tell you what comps you have earned. A casino can not give you anything if they don't know you are playing; a slot card gives them this information so they can reward your play by giving you comps.

2. If you want free rooms and other substantial comps, concentrate your play at one casino to reach a higher comp level. If you spread your play around too thinly, you may not reach a basic comp level at any casino.

3. All slot clubs are not alike. So you have to "dig" in order to get the details that will help you maximize your use of the comp system in any casino. Read all the literature at the slot club desk. If that isn't available or doesn't give you enough information, ask the slot club employees to explain the system and give you specific details on how to earn comps.

4. Joining a slot club can be a good idea even if you don't plan to play at that casino. Card holders can often get nice discounts all over the property: in the gift shop, the restaurants, and even on the room rates. And when business is really slow, some casinos have been known to send out good offers and coupons to everyone in their database, no matter how little they have played.

 

Bart Pestrichello (casino manager)

1.        Table game players -- always present your players card to the dealer or floor supervisor as soon as you arrive at the table

2.                    When buying in at a table game, if you have a bankroll of $300, buy in for all $300 instead of    $100 at a time.

3.        If you want something comped, ask for it.  The only thing we can tell you is YES or NO. Don't be shy!

4.        If you are playing for comps at a Table Game, it does not hurt to ask the floor supervisor what was you average bet during that play session. Understand what is needed to get a comp.

5.        Since most comps at a table game are discretionary, it pays to be genuine, honest and courteous. You are more likely to get what you want.

 

Mickey Petkus (casino host)

1.  Make sure that you are getting tracked for your play. Regardless of whether you are a table or a machine player you must make sure you are getting credit for your casino action. Too many times I have customers who come to me asking for a comp and I have no record of play in the casino's computer.  They say that they have played for hours, lost hundreds of dollars, and the casino has no record of any of it. When that is the case, there is not much the casino can do, and the host is left to tell the customer "sorry". So make sure you get a player ‘s card so you can take advantage of the casino's comp system.

2.        Once a customer has play recorded in the casino's player tracking system they just need to go to the casino's player club booth, or page their casino host if they are on property to ask for the desired comp. Either the club or the host will look up their play and tell the customer what they are qualified for. If you don't have a host, ask for the "host on duty" and introduce yourself to one.

3.        It is a good idea to establish a relationship with a host so that he or she can know your gaming history.

4.  Many times I have gotten crazy and outlandish requests...but as Jean Scott would say..."It doesn't hurt to ask."

5.  There are always exceptions to the rules.

 

Steve Bourie (author/columnist)

1. CALL AHEAD - Every casino has a marketing department, which will give you information on what kind of play is needed in order to earn a comp. Before leaving on your trip call ahead and ask for the marketing department and speak to a casino host who can tell you what is required. (You can get list of the toll-free numbers for all U.S. casinos in the 2003 American Casino Guide or visit the website at www.americancasinoguide.com to see the phone numbers for free). Call several casinos that you’re interested in and ask specific questions of the host: How much do I need to bet to get a comp room? How long do I have to play each day?, etc. Once you’ve decided on which casino you want to visit be sure to call back and speak to the same host. Tell them you’re going to be playing at their casino and you want to confirm the details of what kind of play is required to earn the comps that you want. When you finally arrive at the casino be sure to go meet your casino host and thank them for their time and effort in explaining their comp system to you. Then you’ll be on your way to earning comps and you’ll know exactly what’s required.
2. ASK - Many players mistakenly think that the casino staff will automatically offer them comps whenever they play but that isn’t true. You really need to speak to a floorperson and tell them you want to be rated to see if you’re eligible for any comps. They will then keep track of your average bet as well as how long you play and they will offer you comps based on your level of play.

John Brokopp (author/comulumnist)

1. Don’t be afraid to ask. Casino guest services representatives are in business to please and accommodate people, not alienate them. In most gaming markets, they are aware that people can take their business elsewhere. They are out to make friends, not enemies. Besides, food comps actually cost the casino a fraction of their face value. Comps are the best marketing tools a casino has. They don’t want to say “no” to your request for a comp if they can at all help it. But they’re not mind readers, either. As the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so does the outgoing casino player. If you’ve been warming the seat at a blackjack table for a while or playing at a slot carousel for a period of time, find a representative and inquire about a comp. Just make your request in a polite demeanor and maybe even make some small talk. Don’t be a pest or act demanding as if you’ve got it coming to you. Be nice and friendly and you may be in for a surprise.

2. Develop a personal relationship with a casino host, shift manager, or pit supervisor. Name and face recognition can go a lot further than just being a number in a database. If you’re visiting a casino for the first time, call in advance and ask to speak to someone in player development. Tell them you’ll be coming in and that you’re looking forward to the visit. Get the person’s name and when you check in, stop by the office with a small gift or token of appreciation, such as a souvenir from your hometown or a specialty item from your locality. When you’re out on the casino floor, don’t be shy about introducing yourself to the shift manager or slot or pit supervisor. Just a friendly “hi” along with some chat about the property and in all likelihood the person will offer you his or her card and you’ve made a new friend.

3. Always use your player tracking card. Separate and aside from the personal contacts you make in a casino is being a member of the player’s club. All casinos have them now. Cold, statistical dollars and cents decisions regarding comps are based upon the player profile that pops up when the host or other casino representative brings up your information on the computer screen. It’s kind of like a casino player’s “box score”. By using a card you develop equity in the property and are eligible for cash back or comps as the case may be. Player’s clubs encourage brand loyalty. The more often you attend, the longer you play, and the more money you “churn” through the machines or tables, the more valuable you are to the casino.

4.Take advantage of “first time visitor” privileges. If you’re a veteran player making a first-time visit to a property in your own jurisdiction or out of state, always make a personal contact before you play. Explain to a host that you’ve been playing elsewhere but that you’ve heard a lot of nice things about this particular casino and you’d like to give them a try. Alluding to your games of choice or your level of play won’t hurt, either, such as mentioning the playing tier you are at another property. Casinos are always trying to win over new customers, influence people, and attract new and potential premium players. The casino industry is very competitive in this respect. Manipulate the system, if you will, and see what kind of “welcome wagon” comps you may be offered.

5.Go for “true comps” first before using your point equity. Every casino uses basically the same formula for determining a player’s worth. The “theo” on a player (theoretical loss) is computed using the amount wagered, the length of playing time, and the win/loss ledger. The result is the value of comps the player is entitled to in dollars and cents. On the other hand, every casino uses a different formula for comps based on points accumulated using a player’s card. A player may redeem his or her points for comps and have them deducted from their account. “True comps”, however, may be a buffet or dinner offered to a player without the loss of points. It’s based on individual session play and even property loyalty. Always go for true comps first before you tap into the equity that you’ve already earned and you’re already entitled to receive. It’s kind of like going for a bonus.

 

Bill Burton (author/columnist)

1. Always use your card and get rated.

2. Ask! Comps aren’t given out automatically.

3. If you are looking for a food comp it is best to do this while you are playing.

4. Play during the slower period of the day. It’s easier to get a comp when the casino is not crowded.

5. Be friendly and personable at the table.

6. For a room comp you will want to speak to a casino host before you check out.

Tips for getting a higher rating when you play table games.

1. Buy in for more than you plan to play. This makes the casino think you are willing to risk more.

2. Make your first bet higher if the pit is looking on.

3. Play at a crowded table. The game is slower.

4. Don’t make your bet until they Pit Boss has taken your card and logged you in.

5. Tip the dealers.

6. For blackjack, take your bathroom breaks during the shoe not while the dealer is shuffling.

7. For craps, buy in and tell the dealers to put you up across the board but don’t have the bets working right away. Wait a couple rolls and then take them down.

8. For slots, after you have played for while, tell a slot attendant that you would like to speak to a casino host. Continue playing until the host gets there and then introduce your self. Ask if you have enough play for whatever comp you are seeking.

 

John Grochowski (author/columnist)

1. Don't just count on the players club booth to issue comps. Introduce yourself to a casino host. Hosts have the power of the pen--they can write meal comps or comp your room without deducting points from your players club account. If you ask for a meal comp at a slot club booth, they'll almost always deduct points in exchange. If you've played enough and a host sees you as someone the casino would like to encourage returning, he or she can write the comp without deducting points. Be sure to be polite--you want the host to WANT to help you. You won't get the comp every time, but it's worth pursuing.

2. Players who have hosts might try charging all their meals or anything else they purchase at their casino hotel to their room accounts instead of asking for comps upfront. Often, a meal that you'd have to pay for early in the trip before you've played much can be comped after the fact if you've charged it to your room.

3. Take advantage of direct mail offers. The goal of casino comps is to encourage you to return. Some of the most generous casino offers come through the mail--bonus cash, bonus slot club points, free meals, free tournaments, free or discounted rooms and more. The offers often have restricted dates and expiration dates. If you can manage, plan your trip for days that you can use the direct mail offers.

4. Try to combine offers. Sometimes you'll get multiple mailings from the same casino, and sometimes the offers will overlap. I once received one offer from a casino where I'd played a bit, but never stayed, for a free room and an entry into a video poker tournament, and the next day received another mailing from the same casino, offering triple slot club points and a $50 food credit. Given that I was planning a trip anyway, that was too much to pass up.

 

Frank Scoblete (author/columnist)

1. Always tip on top of your bet so that you control the tip. Your tip will now be thought of as a part of your average bet and you'll get more comp points for it.

2. Always ask for a comp 10 minutes before you have decided to leave so that the rater thinks he's kept you at the table an extra 10 minutes waiting for the comp. It's rare that you'll play that 10 minutes and not get a comp.

3. Don't ask for comps that you know you can't get, such as the gourmet room if you're a $10 bettor. Raters like to say yes. However, always ask for a comp that is a little higher than you actually want so that when the rater says, "Sorry, sir, you can't have the cafe," you can say, "Then can I have the buffet -- for two?" You'll get the buffet because that is what you really wanted all along.

4. Always comp as you go. Some casinos want you to wait until the end of your stay before they decide which comps they will give you. This leaves them in the driver's seat and you begging at the end of your stay, which is not a pleasant feeling. If you comp as you go, you've got the comps you want. If they say no, you can always wait until the end of your trip and ask again.

5. Never play for comps. No sandwich, no gourmet meal, no anything, is worth the expected loss you must have for the casino to give it to you. Just play your game and take the comps as they come.

 

Winnie Grand (advantage player/columnist)

1. Don't ask for comps until you have played a substantial amount. The complimentaries you receive are based on tracked play and the amount of play required will vary from casino to casino. If you have just arrived at the casino and ask for a comp with no play history, you will surely get a "no" answer to your request.
2. Talk to a host about the required play for various "goodies" at their casino. This can be done either before or after playing as you are only asking for information. You might tell the host that you usually play x amount of dollars on your visits and ask them what you might expect from that play. Often you will get a wealth of information from this conversation and can then decide if your level of play will get what you want at that particular casino.
3. Don't abuse the comp system. Many people take advantage of the casino by running up large bills at the gourmet restaurants. Their attitude is "anything goes" because they don't have to pay. The casinos are not happy with the customers who do this and will remember you in a negative light if this occurs. Enjoy the comps you are given but only use what you really want.
4. Complimentaries are just that- not a sure thing but a gift from the casino. Be grateful and show your appreciation to your host when you receive these gifts. A personal note after a visit is always a good idea and will help you build a good relationship with the casino.

Jeff Compton (author/columnist)

1) Do not get overwhelmed by the concept that it is free - it is not free, you are paying with it with your play - and frequently it will cost you more than it would it you paid cash.

2) It is better to play at as few casinos as possible to get the most out of a system. Many of the best benefits do not kick in until you play at a certain level, so if possible, find your favorite casino and stay there.

3) No casino comp system can be completely understood and mastered quickly - it takes a continue effort of using your eyes and ears.

 

Anthony Curtis (author/publisher/columnist)

1. Ask.
2. Understand your favorite slot clubs and work through their systems.
3. Sign up for things when at the casino. This enhances chances of getting low-level comps through the mail.
4. Get rated when you play table games.
5. Read the advice of the real experts in Comp City, Frugal Gambler, and the upcoming More Frugal Gambling.

Bob Dancer (author/columnist)

1. Be ready to use whatever circumstances are appropriate at the moment. For example, if you hit a big jackpot, ask for a comp. Casinos want to keep winners in the casino so they can give the money back. On the other hand, if you have a bigger-than-average loss, ask for a comp. Casinos want to "soothe the pain" of big losers so they'll come back. And since you don't know which of these events will occur on your next trip (conceivably both), you have to be ready to ask either way.

2.  Generally speaking, you get more asking a host than you do asking at the slot club booth. At many casinos, booth workers are $7 an hour brand-new employees who are given little discretion in comping. Hosts are more experienced and are given more leeway.

3.  Before you ask for a comp, ask other players who the best host is to ask. At many casinos there is at least one host who acts like Santa Claus and will give you the moon, and another one that acts like Ebenezer Scrooge and treats every comp issued as making his children starve. When you are asking for favors, you want the first type of host.

 

Skip Hughes (video poker web site host/columnist)

1.                    When the overall return is about equal (due to differences in cash back, for instance) try to play games that are "low variance" such as Jacks or Better or Pick'em, rather than a game with higher
variance, such as NSU Deuces or Double Bonus. This gives you a better chance of "staying in the game", and accumulating more playing time and "coin-in".
2. Play where they have a high "comp rate". This is not always easy to determine and it does change, but there are sources on the Internet that can help.
3. Always try to develop a relationship with a host. This is not hard. It's what they do. Hosts are not just for high rollers. Turn on your change light and when a floor person arrives, ask for a host. When the host arrives, introduce yourself, explain how much you usually play and ask how much play it takes for a buffet, room comp etc. Most hosts will be forthcoming. Be sure to get his or her card and keep it. You can "try out" different hosts at a casino, but once you have found one you like, try to stick with that one. Write
down the host's working hours on the back of the card so you'll know when to call.

4.  If you are starting out, play at a number of different places to see if you can generate a mailed offer. Such offers can often come from very little play and they also may be better than the comps you can get from a host. Mailed offers come from the Casino Marketing department, while the hosts usually work for a department called Player Development. It's good to have both sources to work with. Even if you receive a mailed offer, you can contact your host to book it. This helps you to develop a relationship with you host.
Many casinos as much better at sending mailed offers than others. Again, this kind information changes and comparisons can be found on the Internet.
5.   Always be nice, polite and appreciative of what is offered to you.

LV Pro (advantage player)

1. Make sure that you're using a player's card. If playing slots or video poker, make sure to insert the card into the machine at the start of play. If a table game, present the card to the dealer who will pass it to the floorperson. The suit will start a rating card on you, noting amount of buy-in, average bet and time played.
2. Ask. Ask. Ask. Even if you don't think you qualify. You'll be surprised at the comps you can get by asking. Recently I played blackjack at the Tropicana LV. I played for an hour, betting $10, $15, $20, $25, up to a few $100 bets. Just on a whim I asked for a comp to Follies Bergere, their big evening show which costs $55 or so per ticket. They checked their computer and asked how many tickets I wanted. I was absolutely shocked that I was actually going to get the tickets. No way did I think I had enough play for 2 tickets valued at $110. Once again, and I can't stress this enough: Ask. The worst they can do is say "no".
3. Here's how to expand a meal comp. If at first they can offer you either two for the buffet or one for the coffee shop [which you would prefer], take the comp for 2 for the buffet. Find out what time the buffet closes. Show up with your meal-mate after the buffet has closed and tell a pit boss you came all this way, suffered traffic and parking only to find out the buffet is closed. Ask if there's any other restaurant open now. Of course you'll already know the 24-hour coffee shop is the only open venue. The pit boss will usually change the comp from buffet to coffee shop with no problem.
4. Read Max Rubin's "Comp City".

Mr. Pit Boss (casino supervisor)

1.        Make sure you obtain a player’s card and always use it every time you sit down on a game.

2.        A sure-fire way to make sure you’re being rated is to put $500 to $1,000 on deposit at the cage and draw on it in the form of a marker when you sit down at a game.  That way there will be a paper trail of your play.

3.        The casino is looking for time played, so take advantage of time away from the game.  Leave some of your smaller denomination chips at the table and leave the game for 10 to 15 minutes an hour.  They will continue to rate you while your gone.

4.        If you catch a run and you’re wagering more than you usually would, feel free to point this out to the floor supervisor who is rating you.  You want to make sure that they see and rate your higher play.

5.        If you’re usually a $100 average player and you’re having a streak of bad luck and decide to play $25, you might not want to be rated since this will lower your average bet and thus reduce your comps.

6. Be pleasant!  The better rapport you build with the dealer and the floor supervisor, 

      the better chance you have in stretching your rating to the limit. Tipping the dealer once in a while will get noticed by the floor supervisor (who was at one time working for tips). That is the defining factor of a nice player, which will probably boost your rating.

7.    Most importantly, when you finished playing don’t be afraid to ask the floor supervisor what your average bet was and how much time he has you in for.  If you disagree, this would be the time to let the supervisor know.  If you work on him a little (in a nice way) he may pump up your rating.  If he doesn’t just be polite and shake his hand because the next time you sit down in his section, he may be more generous with his rating.

8. The bottom line with comps is the longer you play and the higher your average bet, the more you get.  Just make sure you always get rated for your play.

 

Barney Vinson (author)

1. In order to get a casino comp, you usually have to be rated. Simply give your name to the supervisor when you come to the table. You'll be rated just like the high rollers are, and entitled to the same special treatment. (In addition, the casino will know who to bill when you throw your chair through the plate glass window after losing your life savings.)
2. Join the casino's slot club. You'll get credit every time you play the
machines, and you'll be eligible for discounted room rates, free meals, and other casino goodies—plus you can use the card to scrape the ice off your car's windshield. Many slot clubs set aside blocks of rooms for their players during busy times of the year, and if you're a slot club member you may be able to get a room when nobody else can. Even if you don't plan to play the machines, join the slot club anyway. Sometimes you get a free gift just for signing up. At the very least, you're now on the casino's mailing list, which means you'll start getting coin vouchers, meal discounts, and room deals throughout the year.
3.  Concentrate your play in the casino where you're staying.
4.  Introduce yourself to a host, and ask him what it takes to get a free room,
RFB (room, food, beverages), or free air fare. He'll tell you how much you have to bet, and how many hours a day you have to play to get any of these.
If he tells you that you have to bet $50 a hand for four hours to get a free room, don't let that scare you off. You could bet $25 a hand for eight hours, and be entitled to the same thing.
5.  Set up a credit line at the casino cage. Most people who make frequent
gambling trips do this. For one thing, your money is a lot safer in the cashier's cage than it is in your wallet, and you can withdraw it any time you want. An ideal line of credit would be $5,000. You'll need either cash or a pre-authorized check from your bank. Now you're in the casino computer!
"Yes, I would like to get breakfast in the coffee shop, please." Then add nonchalantly, " I'm in the computer."
The supervisor checks, and sure enough you're good for five thousand. He knows he's dealing with someone who has money and will probably gamble with it. He certainly doesn't want to offend this person by denying a simple request for a free meal.
6.  When all else fails, just ask for a comp. Getting something for
nothing is what put Vegas on the map in the first place. The easiest comp to get is one to the buffet. It's usually the cheapest—for you and the casino. A breakfast buffet may cost you $3.95, but it costs the casino about 60¢. It's also easier to get a comp in a large casino, because smaller casinos work on a lower profit margin.
Here's how one fellow did it. "Can I get a comp?" he asked the pit boss.
"A comp to what?"
"Anything!"

 

One Final Tip

This bit of sound advice comes from Gambling for Dummies by Richard Harroch, Lou Krieger, and Arthur Reber. It’s the key to getting the rewards you deserve when you play.

 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for a comp. As long as you are polite and courteous, you can’t ask too often. When in doubt, ask. Always ask. Ask your pit boss. Ask the VIP desk. Ask your host. Ask now. Ask later. Ask again. Ask, ask, and ask”.

 

 

 

 

COMP EQUATIONS

 

Formula #1

average bet  x   # decisions per hour  x hours played  =  player’s trip/session handle

 

Formula #2

trip/session handle x  casino’s advantage (theoretical hold percentage)  =  player’s expected loss (or theoretical)

 

Formula #3

Player’s expected loss  x  casino’s percentage return *  =  comp dollars

 

* The  expected return percentage percentage is different from one casino to the next. For example local’s casino in Las Vegas tend to offer a 10-20% return on a player’s theoretical whereas strip casinos average 20-40%. Note that the amount a player actually wins or loses per session may be much more or much less then his theoretical but over many sessions his actual results will approach the calculated theoretical loss.