Smarter Gambling Travel

Anatomy of a Casino Visit for a Casual Advantage Player

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Written by Joshua

In the past, I’ve spoken about how I consider myself to be a Casual Advantage Player, and that there are others like me out there who are similar. In today’s post I’m going to use a recent casino visit as an example of how I approach this, to hopefully shed light on how this relates to my casino play and why I do it.

As a refresher, like many casino visitors I bring a budget for my day, play various slots, both those with persistent state opportunities and those without. I personally play a mix of things, including video poker and some tables (although I didn’t play any tables on this particular visit to the casino).

Most importantly, I use the plays I find as an opportunity to pad my bankroll, not to necessarily make a profit, although at the end of this post I’ll cover how this works out in practice.

My Most Recent Casino Visit

I visited one of my local casinos on a Saturday afternoon. I was there for four hours, from about 2:15 to 6:15 p.m. It’s a big property, and as I usually do when I got for a one-day visit I did a full lap of the property down and back. In practice this means I walk each part of the property twice, as there’s multiple casino areas connected in various ways.

Because it was Saturday, I played games that were available, and in this particular trip I played some slots without persistent state reels, some with, and then some video poker. I also played some skill games.

My Advantage Play Attempts

I found a number of opportunities that led to a profit. The games you see in the list below should look familiar if you’ve been a regular reader of the site:

TOTAL OFF AP ATTEMPTS: +$169

For four hours in the casino, I ended up generating a bit over $40 an hour in additional cashflow. That’s not insignificant, and given I played other slots, video poker and such in between, if I only focused on Advantage Play opportunities I could’ve potentially ended up with even more.

So did I bring home that money? No. I actually ended up down for the visit.

There are full-time Advantage Players I follow on Twitter who would laugh at that and say I’m not being disciplined. But I’m not going to a casino with the sole purpose of making money, although leaving with more than I arrived with is certainly fine by me. So why didn’t I? A variety of reasons:

  • This particular trip I was on a mission to see what new machines the casino got, and in certain cases play them out for this site. Because I need enough exposure to each game to be able to do a write-up justice, this meant not stopping the moment a play was exhausted. This is an acceptable investment to me.
  • I usually go to the casino in part to relax and for entertainment, and full time AP chasing is, by definition, work. So while I keep an eye open, that’s not the purpose of these visits for me. As such I played a number of slots that I like to play, and I didn’t catch many bonuses this trip, so those games led to a loss.
  • I also played some video poker, which is usually a good source of play for me without much expense, but all of my sessions were quick bankroll drainers on this particular day. About half of what I got off the AP plays went into video poker attempts that failed very fast, which is unusual but not completely unexpected.
  • In a couple of cases I played a bit longer on the machines beyond the initial play. In the case of Electromax there were some follow-up opportunities that I attempted to close. The second I did, and it was a loss. The third was proving too tough and I abandoned it instead of giving all I got on the first one back. I ended up putting an extra $20 through Scarab Grand since I wanted to see if my first round of experiences for my write-up were standard. Sad to say, for the second attempt, it was.

For the trip, I ended up down about $100. That wasn’t my full bankroll for the trip; if I had not played the Advantage Play opportunities I found, I could’ve busted out well before the four hours were up.

But ultimately this trip highlights what has become my newer normal since taking this approach on, and as the number of persistent state games have increased: I tend to go home with a portion of my intended bankroll at minimum, and sometimes have streaks of winning visits – during the fall I had six out of seven winning visits in a two month window, with a similar mix between AP and non-AP as this particular trip.

The full-time APs that are out there work much harder than I did above. They spend a lot more time understanding games, figuring out the right times to play, they look at aspects of games I don’t get into on here. I’m not actually interested in getting into that – they work hard for that money and deserve it, in my opinion.

By comparison, every single play above can be done with just a passing glance at a game to see if it has something to offer. I know the full-time APs probably don’t appreciate quick wins picked off the machines and out of their pockets, but frankly it’s right on the screen. I’m not telling anybody anything that can’t be figured out with a quick read of the paytable.

But the reality is many slot players don’t go that far. They stick a bill in (and perhaps a player’s card, if they’re even that far along). They’ll play a game, get a win or not, and then walk away, not realizing they’re in the middle of a cycle or that those wilds stick around another spin. It happens a lot, in fact.

Not every scenario is worth playing, and not every scenario worth playing will guarantee a win, but if you’re going to play slots anyway, why not put your best foot forward when an opportunity arises?

About the author

Joshua

My name is Joshua, and I’m a 30-something who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, games that give you a potential edge, casino promotions and systems and how you can get the most out of it.

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