It has been said that "once a teacher, always a teacher." When I retired from the high school English classroom after 25 years, I could not stop teaching. I just switched my subject material and started to expound to anyone who would listen about how to be a smarter gambler. So this month our casino "lesson" is a vocabulary study that will teach you some basics of how to get more extras from a casino - whether you are winning or losing.

  1. COMPS – this is short for complimentaries. It means the things the casino gives you without charge just because you are playing in their casino, anything from the drinks that even the penny betters can order to the penthouse suites for the high rollers. I call these the casino extras because you get them simply by playing what you would ordinarily play anyway. Besides the more familiar comps for meals, rooms, and shows, Brad and I have been comped for the last 18 years for such things as haircuts, massages, airfare, limo rides, parties, and invitational tournaments. Even back when we were quarter video poker players, real low-rollers, we got so many comps that when we appeared on the TV show 48 Hours many years ago, Dan Rather named me the Queen of Comps. Now that we have gone up in denomination we are flooded with comps: so much logo wear our closets are far too crowded, lavish food baskets and fine bottles of spirits, expensive jewelry and electronics, and enough toys for our grandchildren that they think Santa lives in a casino.
  2. RECOGNITION - you cannot get anything from a casino if it does not know you are playing there. How do you get their attention? One all-important basic requisite: join the slot club. Then every time you put your player’s card in the machine while you play, the casino knows you are giving them your valuable business and they have already put into place a system to keep track of your play and then reward you. You can also give this card to the pit boss when you are playing table games so your play there will also be tracked and you will earn comps.
  3. LITERATURE - no, not Shakespeare – I mean the printed material that you will usually find at the players club desk. Read carefully for specific details on whether the club gives back cash or comps or both. Brochures may tell you exactly how the slot club works, giving a list of the things you can earn as you play and how many points each requires.
  4. INFORMATION – the more you know about the casino’s player reward system the more you can get out of it. Although some casinos spell out in black and white their criteria for giving out their valuable booty, the great majority of them do not. If this is the situation, the clerks at the club desk can often answer many of your questions that the literature does not address. If you take your points in cash, can you still get meal comps? How many points does it take to get a free buffet? A free show?
  5. FREE -my favorite casino vocabulary word. Because casinos have built comps into their marketing budget, the possibilities for freebies is endless, even for a low roller. You do not have to feel embarrassed to look for and ask about these extra benefits. Learn to use the comp system and I predict that "free" will become your favorite word too.
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