GET ORGANIZED Ė HOW YOU CAN
WIN BEFORE YOU STEP INTO A CASINO - by Jean Scott
(Note: I wrote this back when we were living in Indianapolis and came to
Vegas for an extended vacation)
My friends say I must have been born organized. I donít remember that far
back but I do remember that my first-grade desk in the one-room schoolhouse
I attended was the neatest one of the whole 6 grades. Fifty-five years
later, my desk is not quite so neat but my file-cabinet drawers labeled
"Gambling" are a picture model of organization.
I have never kept exact count of the number of hours I spend planning our
casino visits, but I daresay that I spend 2-3 hours at my desk for every
hour I spend in a casino. And I credit those desk hours for making our
casino hours so successful financially. For every dollar you "save" by being
organized that is a dollar "won."
Letís take one of our usual annual 3-week July Vegas trips as an example.
That sentence already contains an important planning detail. We know from
past experience that July is getting to be as big a bargain time as the dead
days of December before the Christmas-New Year holidays. We know that the
casinos make some of their best free-room offers in July and run some of
their most lucrative (for the player) promotions Ė anything to get warm
bodies into their casinos during these days of triple-digit temperatures
that scare off tourists "even if it is a dry heat."
I begin planning this July trip as soon as we come home in April from
spending the winter in Vegas. Itís a good thing I am the planner in the
family. If it were up to Brad, my very-laid-back husband, we would not even
think about Vegas until we had been home and "rested" for at least 2 months.
(We love Vegas, but we are always glad to get back to the less intense
lifestyle in our Midwest condo.)
Because bargain-rate seats go quickly, the sooner we book airline flights
the cheaper the fare. This can be a savings of $100-$500 over last- minute
reservations. Or, if we want to use frequent-flier miles, it will be less
likely that our chosen dates will be fully booked. We also want to have the
best chance possible to get bumped and "earn" some more gambling money, so
we want to try to book a flight to Vegas during the busy 4th of
July holiday period. And we try to get a flight back home on a Sunday, the
best day of the week to get bumped leaving Vegas. That is a potential $200
for the shortest-distance one-time bump with a mind-boggling figure of over
$2000 if we would be lucky enough to have multiple long-distance bumps.
Now, out come the files Ė Free-room Offers, Casino Promotions, Rental Car
Discounts, Coupons. I have a large monthly calendar and our 3-week schedule
becomes a complicated puzzle to put together. First I call around to several
rental car companies to see what is the best rate I can find, factoring in
every affiliation discount we have (AARP, airline FF partners) and every
coupon offer. When I find the cheapest, I make the reservation, knowing that
I have locked in the price. I call them every 2 or 3 weeks to see if the
rates have gone down or there is a new lower promotion price. If this
happens, I can always make a new reservation and cancel the old. However, it
has been my experience that rates usually go up as you get closer to the
rental date but you have locked in the lower price by calling early.
Next, I look at all the casino free-room offers we have gotten in the
mail and pencil in a tentative schedule on the calendar. I note the details
carefully, so that I cover weekends first with offers that are good anytime.
Then I fill in weekdays with those that are Sunday-Thursday only. To cut
down on tiresome moves, I favor those offers that are for longer time
periods and ones where Brad and I each have an offer that can be booked back
to back. Next I call the casinos and make the reservations, usually having
no trouble with booked-up dates because this is a slow time for them. I will
work on the 4th of July holiday period first to be sure I have
There is one drawback to making our reservations 3 months in advance.
Many casinos do not send out their offers early enough for us who want to
book our air well in advance to get bargain fares. So frequently I have to
do some juggling after the initial reservation period if we receive an
"offer we canít refuse." (In Bradís playbook, this is an offer that includes
a free jacket Ė even though we have a whole closet dedicated to casino
jackets!!!!) Sometimes I will double-book with 2 casinos if we feel we can
give both places enough play to keep qualified. Because we have been going
to Vegas for many years, we have built up a good playing history with a
number of casinos even though we usually play at only 3 or 4 "regular" ones.
So in July (and December) our complaint is "So many promotions; so little
time." One of my saddest jobs is to periodically clean out our gambling
files and throw out expired offers and promotions that we just couldnít fit
into our schedule.
After our reservations are made for air, car rental, and rooms, I get out
the Promotion file and start filling in the days on the calendar. Triple
points at Casino A on Mondays - this casino doesnít give cash-back but we
will build up our slot club comp bank at this our favorite place to eat.
Pool Party at Casino B on Tuesday nights Ė we wonít stay for the loud music
but they are serving free hamburgers and drinks and they are giving out a
valuable coupon book we can use in our VP play later that evening. Double
points all month at Casino C Ė mark down that we need to register for that
before we play the first time. The calendar is getting full - drawing
promotions, free tournaments, casino parties, free bingo sessions. Maybe I
can persuade Brad to do that last one alone Ė bingo bores me to death even
when it is free--even the Queen has her limits!
We donít forget Vegas for the next three months. We continue our
preparations. The mail continues to bring new offers and promotions we add
to our July calendar, and gaming magazines and newsletters arrive that keep
us up to date on what is happening in that ever-changing city. We practice
on our computer the various VP games we plan to play, honing our strategy
skills. Better to make mistakes and learn how to correct them when it isnít
costing you any money. I am on the Internet daily, exchanging ideas about
Vegas in general and VP in particular, getting information about where the
new good games have appeared and, sadly, where our old favorites have been
removed. I can read Vegas publications online and be up on the current
promotions that are geared for the locals, ones that most tourists do not
find out about.
July 3 arrives and we are at our home airport. We feel secure in the fact
that we have done our homework; we are prepared and organized. We are very
ready to tackle Vegas and video poker with the very best chance for victory!
But wait Ė when we checked in at the gate, the attendant answered our
questions. "Yes, this flight is overbooked. Yes, your names will be at the
top of the volunteer list." Hurray! We may again have a chance to "win"
before we even get to a casino!