Understanding Comps

Visiting Vegas: Comp Program Strategy

Flamingo Las Vegas as seen in 2018
Written by Joshua

In one of the earlier posts on the site, I talked about do’s and don’ts for a first Vegas visit. One specific topic I covered in the post was around comp programs, and not going too crazy signing up for cards everywhere. In this post I want to get into more details in making the most of Vegas by ensuring you prioritize what you can achieve with your bankroll, while also setting yourself up for future visits.

Understand Your Goals

Anyone who plays with comps in mind (not to earn comps, but too maximize the benefits that naturally come out of gambling at a property) will take a beat to think about what they hope to get in the future. Are you looking for hotel offers? Free play? Food? Some combination thereof? Are you looking to have a good strip location? Is Downtown more fun for you? Do you rent a car so anywhere in Vegas makes sense?

Various properties handle the same scenarios differently. Caesars tends to favor free rooms and are pretty stingy with the extras. Mlife tends to have more well-rounded offers, but they require you to stay on property to claim them. Many of the downtown properties will let you use the elements of the offers you care most about; for instance, I get free room offers at The D, but I am not required to stay there to use other aspects of the offer, such as free play, food credit and match play.

Understand Your Bankroll

Your bankroll will also have an impact on what you can snag for a nice comp. Are you a $100/day player? You probably shouldn’t be shooting for the Cosmo, Wynn or Venetian/Palazzo. But you might see some helpful offers coming from the likes of Luxor (which renovated many of their rooms recently enough that they’re clean/comfortable), Flamingo and so on.

If you play more, you could put up a good showing at any number of properties, but the goal is to make sure you can put a significant showing where you hope to get offers, which leads to the next tip…

Select a Home Base

Generally speaking you should have a property you have as your home base for the trip. This is the property where you’re going to put a significant amount of play in to ensure you get an offer to come back. While you can certainly go out to other casinos and gamble, you should have one that gets most of your attention (although in the case of companies like Caesars or MGM, it could be their set of properties since it all counts towards your total).

If you’re there for three or four days, and want to play at other casinos, minimize the number of days you visit secondary casinos, because they won’t know you’re in Vegas for the entire trip. Instead they’ll see a single day and calculate offers based off one day of play, not three or four. I’ve talked about visit frequency when it comes to home casinos, and the same rules apply here.

Longer Trip? Multiple Home Bases

The Vegas comp construct has an upper limit, usually somewhere between 3 and 5 days depending on the owner. If you like to visit Vegas for a week or more, you’ll need to have history with multiple chains or properties to make up for it. So for a longer trip, divide it in halves and spend time each half at a different set of properties.

The reason for this, like the home base advice above, is to make them think you’re only around for a shorter time window, since most properties count each day you show up and do something as a gaming day (a major exception is The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which derives a trip calculation instead, and makes offers based on that trip theoretical loss).

Both Caesars and Mlife will let you book multiple comped room bookings as long as there’s a three day or so gap between them (they have slightly different rules but the idea is the same). So it’s helpful to have two companies with offers so you can move between them if you wish to stay out there. It’s a very Vegas thing (and to a lesser degree, other markets like AC) to get up and move mid-trip to another hotel with comp offers.

Concentrate Your Play

As discussed in the first time Vegas Do’s and Don’ts, you should be careful about signing up for too many players cards at a time, and playing a minimal amount at each one. Let’s say you have $1,000. If you play at one casino, they see you as a $1,000 player (presuming you lose it all). If you play $100 at 10 casinos, you have 10 casinos each seeing you as a $100 player.

Bigger comps like hotel rooms require enough play to show the ability for the casino to potentially earn enough back through gambling, eating, etc. And if you’re hoping for throw-ins like free play or food and beverage credit, the amount of play needed to get that only goes up from there.

It may be tempting to want to casino hop, and generally speaking, if you already have solid established play at certain properties and their offers work for you for the comps you need to come back, you’re probably fine, but one thing I learned as I concentrated my play a bit better, and didn’t show up too many days in a row to mess up my comp calculations, is the offers simply got a lot better. I may have put in roughly the same play but did it in less days, so they saw me as a better player.

The above tips aren’t an exhaustive list, but for a player who hopes to visit Vegas on a somewhat regular basis this will give you a lot of momentum to achieve what you hope you can for comps in a place like Las Vegas.

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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