Smarter Gambling Understanding Comps

The Math Behind Casino Offers

Sample comp offer
Written by Joshua

We’ve talked here in the past about some of the ways you can maximize casino offers. But for those who want to understand the various ways casinos examine us as players, this post is for you.

We’ll take a look at some of the information that matters most to casinos, and how you can use that to your advantage.

The (Casino) Law of Averages

Before we get into specific calculations, one thing casinos will do is take a look at all trips within a certain window of time (for example, a year) and come up with an average. If you low roll one trip and bet big another, they’ll blend the two together. The more often you visit, the more trips they have to work with.

That’s one reason why we previously recommended considering not going quite as often and bringing a bigger bankroll – you’re not diluting your average with trips where you have a lower budget and a higher risk of busting out early. As you’ll see as we dig deeper, how long you play can matter to some casinos.

Some casinos are more sophisticated, and use a weighted system, factoring in age of visits to put more emphasis on recent play – if your spending has been rising, your offers may reflect that recent history and give you a more favorable one than a straight average would dictate, in the hopes you might continue to spend above the average.

Your Losses

Some casinos just outright look at how much money you’re leaving behind. After all, that’s a very quick understanding of how much you’ve given them over your trips. But it’s a pretty blunt force instrument, and if you have a winning trip or winning streak, your offers will become non-existent.

As such, many casinos will factor this into the math, but they won’t solely rely on this because blacking out people who win doesn’t give them a chance to woo them back and hopefully get it back over time.

Your Total Coin-In

The amount you bet is important to many casinos, particularly when it comes to slots. It’s not as easy to track with table games, but you’ll see pit bosses scan tables and enter in bet sizes periodically so they can figure an average bet and time on table.

The more bets you make, the more times you expose your money to the house edge on a given game, and the less likely short term variance will lead you to bigger winnings than average (or bigger losses for that matter) – over time, you’ll simply get closer and closer to the expected average loss.

So many casinos will look at the amount you’re betting as part of a common formula we’ll discuss shortly.

Bet Size

Linked to coin in is your average bet size. If you make one $500 wager, that’s looked at differently than 500 $1 wagers, for the reasons outlined above. A one-time $500 wager on a nearly 50:50 bet isn’t that interesting to a casino, but 500 $1 bets on a slot machine, which has a house edge of 10 percent, will be much more important to a casino by comparison.

Many people think the size of the their bankroll, or what they lose, matters, and as noted above some casinos care about that. But casinos actually want you to play awhile because it increases the chances they’re going to get to keep a portion or all of your bankroll the longer you play.

How Long You’re At the Casino

Many people will share stories that their host recommends playing for four hours to maximize their offers and chances for other things like back-end comps. The reason for this is because of what we just noted – longer amounts of play will counteract any short term big wins or losses and bring you closer to the expected amount of the loss.

As such, casinos tend to look unfavorably at hit and run play – they would prefer to see you stay for awhile, and will generally generate better offers for those that do.

What Game(s) You’re Playing

If you’re a slots player, you’re playing games that likely have a higher house edge than just about anything else you can play. If you’re playing Blackjack or Baccarat, you could be playing games with a much lower edge.

Bet size matters too – playing $100 a hand Blackjack is putting a lot more money at risk over time than playing a $3/spin slot machine, but you can play a lot of spins in the time it takes to resolve a Blackjack hand as well, and on a higher-edge game.

As such, casinos will factor in what you’re playing and account for it accordingly in determining offers.

Gaming Day

Finally, most casinos have what they establish as a “gaming day,” which usually differs from a standard midnight to midnight calculation as many casino players will gamble later in the evening. 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. is common in places like Las Vegas, but some casinos have other start/end times.

It’s good to know what this is at the casino you’re playing at, as once the new gaming day starts, all your play for the previous day is lumped together and your play on the new day is counted separately for another daily addition to your gaming history.

The Magic Formula: Average Daily Theoretical (ADT) Loss

The general idea behind ADT is that a formula analyzes much of the above to determine:

  • How much you’re betting
  • For how long
  • On what games

With those three pieces of information (or alternatively total coin-in on what games can work equally well if you have that data), you can calculate the expected loss for a given day. That’s if the math works perfectly involving the house edge, but we know short-term variance could mean you do better than the expected loss, or worse.

But the math always works in the long term, so casinos that use an ADT calculation in its offer generation knows that given enough visits and time on the casino floor (or bigger picture all of its players coming to the casino), the math will increasingly work in its favor, so a short-term win by a player isn’t anything to really fear.

Caesars properties are more known to use an ADT style calculation. There have been reports in the past that MGM will hack down offers for players who have won a lot of money in recent visits, only restoring them if they lose money later. So MGM does seem to put more weight on the win/loss amounts.

What to Expect From Comps

Generally a casino will provide offers that are roughly 20-30% of expected loss. This is an all-in calculation, and can factor in room offers (and whether you take them), resort credits or food and beverage offers, freeplay, any gifts they may offer, etc. If you accept offers and don’t play to the level they have in your average, you’ll be considered “overcomped” and the offers will drop; conversely, if you play above what the offers expect and above your average, you would generally see your offers improve to reflect the higher average.

If you’re just a casual player, you shouldn’t stress too much about this – most comps are based on previous history, so you’ve already earned them! Enjoy what you’re being given. But for those trying to maximize comps, pay close attention to the numbers and you’ll see how changes in your play can impact the offers you’re receiving.

What was the best offer you’ve ever received from a casino? Share in the comments!

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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