Myths vs. Reality

Does Pulling Your Players Card During Slot Bonuses Help with Casino Offers?

Players card inserted into a machine
Written by Joshua

A regular reader to the site was curious about something that some players do when they hit a bonus: Pull their players card. The idea is relatively simple – the thought is if they pull the players card, it will not record the winnings, growing what the casino sees as their overall losses, which will in turn hopefully help offers.

While there are plenty of casinos’ players clubs and plenty of tracking systems for the cards, does this help your offers?

STATUS: As a general rule, pulling your card will not help your offers.

There are a few aspects to this topic, so let’s go through each one by one.

Some Card Systems Don’t Activate, or Deactivate, Until a Spin is Complete

Have you ever attempted to put your players card into a slot machine during the middle of a spin, only to get an error? This is by design, and the converse is true in those systems too – if your card was read at the beginning of a spin, it still knows who you are if you pull the card.

In that way, pulling your card may not do anything if you’re in the middle of a bonus. The tracking system would have had confirmed your card was in the machine at the beginning of the spin, and would track through the end of the spin, regardless of whether you pull your card or not.

However, not all systems work this way, and so there is the possibility that some systems would not see through that wager, or would drop it off your report.

Many Casinos Use Theoretical Loss, Not Actual Loss, to Build Offers

A more important aspect of pulling the card is it presumes that actual win and loss is the primary vector a casino tracks when it comes to offers. But the reality is many systems care more about theoretical win/loss vs. actual, and other metrics such as how long you play and your average wager.

Pulling your card will not change much, if at all, your coin-in, which along with the game being played will determine theoretical loss. When casinos factor in actual win/loss, it’s usually for two buckets:

  • If you’re a big enough player, and your losses are way above the expected average, they may let you get comped based on actual loss vs. theoretical loss. But the gap would have to be very wide, and the bets large enough, to justify this.
  • If you win consistently, and show more wins than losses, a small minority of casinos may take away offers because of the consistency of the player’s wins, or because they feel the player is overcomped relative to the fact that they routinely win.

So pulling the card shouldn’t have any major impact on comps.

Win/Loss Reports Don’t Work for Taxes

A secondary reason many players may want to exaggerate wins on their win/loss report is because they want to show more losses on their taxes. The IRS has itself advised in the past that win/loss reporting is not accurate enough to be deemed sufficient in the case of an audit. It’s also failed to hold up on its own in court cases.

However, they can be used as supporting documentation to corroborate things like ATM receipts and gambling diaries. The reason they aren’t accepted on their own are for reasons like:

  • The casinos will usually note that these are an estimate
  • You can’t prove you were the one playing when the losses were accrued
  • You can play without the card (or pull the card, if the system can be gamed that way)
  • Most of the time it’s not a signed statement, which makes it be considered unofficial.

So pulling the card to try to game the numbers doesn’t really help if you have to prove your actual gambling wins and losses for the year.

Should You Worry They’ll Catch You?

Given the above, some players may wonder if there’s harm in doing this, above/beyond a less helpful win/loss report. The reality is that if offers are largely based on the wager and the game played, and comp dollars earned are based on wager and the game played, there’s technically nothing you’ll lose by pulling a card mid-spin – again, the wager will be captured.

Some players may even notice certain systems time the card out in the middle of a bonus when they run long, because they have an aggressive time out mechanism. Casinos would rather err on the side of not measuring all play vs. measuring all play – primarily this avoids giving comps to someone who hasn’t earned it, but pulling your card could have a similar impact if the system throws out that wager. So the odds are higher you’re only hurting your comps, not helping them, by pulling your card, if it has any impact at all.

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.

2 Comments

  • There are a few ways to discern if pulling your card on bonus rounds work or don’t work. Here are two proven methods:

    1) If you have a host (or a nice Player Club employee) and s/he shares your coin-in, wins, etc, on a computer screen. Then you can see the impact of disguising or exaggerating your losses, e.g. you are trying to hide wins from bonus rounds.

    2) Put your card back into the machine after a few spins during the same bonus round and see if your name and coin-in matched from previous session, e.g. it continued from when you pulled your card.

    Lastly, keep in mind some casinos will comp 10% of “actual losses” (or synthetic losses with successful card pulling) in addition to comping based on theo. These casinos don’t want you to leave with a bad experience so they comp you because you were extremely “unlucky” in their (flawed) player tracking system.

    My advice is to not to abuse the comps on 10% losses. From my experience, the casinos have good auditors and most will catch you.

    • The 10% loss thing is a good point, although I’ve usually heard that it’s paired with a loss floor that’s in the five figures, not something many players would necessarily hit. So you’d need a) a casino that supports that, b) a card system where pulling is viable, and c) enough successful pulls and/or actual losses to hit that floor. I left out that point for that reason, but it’s certainly a valid thing to note.

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