Myths vs. Reality Understanding Comps

Why You Should (Almost) Always Use A Casino’s Players Card When Gambling

Players card inserted into a machine
Written by Joshua

What is one of the most guaranteed ways you can get paid at a casino? A Players Club card. Virtually every casino offers a players card, and virtually every casino Players Club offers you some sort of incentives to use the card. In today’s post, we’ll talk about this and why it’s a critical part of your gambling experience to use a players card.

Stepping Past the Myths

I see it quite often on forums and Google groups, when people talk about slot machines and using a player’s card. Someone inevitably says that they only win when they pull their card out, and that the casino controls the payback percentage based on whose card is in the machine.

That’s not true. It simply isn’t. Don’t believe it.

How can I be so sure? Well, if you understand how slot machines are designed, players card systems aren’t built in when a slot machine is manufactured. Casinos add on the system of their choice. The RNG, the slot software, etc. is not built with any of that being known – the slots are designed to allow for them to be embedded, but they have to work regardless of the presence of them – so they’re designed to work with or without them. That means payback, etc. are set in the core software of the slot.

If someone happens to win a lot when their card is out, it could just be luck of the draw. But what is more certain is they’re giving up a portion of their payback expectation to the house because of their irrational fear of the players card.

Your Guaranteed Payback

When you sign up for a Players Club card, you many times get initial incentives as a thank you for registering. But just for using the card when you play, you generally earn points that can then be redeemed for Free Play, spend at restaurants or on your hotel bill, etc. Those earnings are usually factored into the casino’s math when determining payback on the machines, as it’s the total amount they give out for what you bet.

For some casino rewards programs, like MGM’s mLife, when you reach a new tier, you earn points at a faster rate due to bonuses – so leaving out the card could cost you even more if you miss a tier or bonus earnings because you opted not to always use your card.

Each casino has its own determination of how much you ultimately earn through this option, but it could be anywhere from 0.25-1% payback based on your bet in most cases, which is pretty significant if you gamble enough. If you do $10,000 worth of coin in (meaning total bet, not necessarily lost), that’d be between $25 and $100 you left on the table. It certainly won’t make or break you, but the more you use the house money for gambling or paying for things like food or your hotel room, the more you can either keep in your pocket or reallocate to other parts of your trip.

Also remember some casinos will do multiplier days, which give you a bonus when you play those days. I once earned 2500 tier points at a Caesars property on a day where I had a 5x Rewards Credit multiplier. That was good for $125 in points, on top of the fact that I managed to win $1,000 – that’s a nice bonus on my winnings!

Getting Better Offers

The other aspect of using your card whenever you play is that the more the casino sees you playing and betting, the more likely your offers will be stronger.

Casinos tend to calculate offers based on a variety of metrics, including how often you visit and when your last visit was, but the primary factors are almost always based on how long you played, and how much you bet. Those two pieces of data can generally calculate what’s known as Average Daily Theo (ADT).

Based on the amount you bet and the time you’re there, they can generally figure out based on the standard math what they expect you to lose. The higher your ADT, the more comfortable they’ll be sending you bigger offers, because they believe over time the math will work in their favor (which it almost inevitably does as you play longer).

Four hours is generally the magic sweet spot casino marketing teams will mention – if you’re playing for four hours they’ll like you a lot more than those who hit and run, because variance becomes more at play with shorter sessions.

So based on the above, why does your card matter? They can only track when you’re playing with your card, as that’s the only play recorded to their computers. So if you take your card out and then proceed to keep betting, those bets are no longer necessarily captured by the casino’s data system. It’s possible that some systems might, since your money is still in the machine, but they’re likely to err on the side of presuming it’s not you, which also helps to save them money in comps.

So Should I ALWAYS Use My Card?

There’s one scenario which might warrant staying off the grid. If you’re going to a casino where you normally bet a lot, and don’t plan on betting much if at all, or are going to be there for a much shorter window than normal, consider skipping using your card in all circumstances for that specific visit – that means not in a slot machine, not swiping at a promo booth, not using your Free Play offer and not using your points for any purchases.

The moment you trigger any action that leverages your card, you initiate what’s known as a gaming day. If you know you’re not going to be playing to your normal standard, you run the risk of diluting that ADT calculation they have on you, since you now have a zero or low betting day and that will get averaged in with the others. That will serve to hurt your mailer/come back offers in most cases (again, that just serves to save them money on the offers, so the formula will always be tough on players when a casino is given the opportunity).

So the only time you should pass on it is when it could serve to hurt what you have already built up and wish to maintain it – if you don’t care about your offers, then it doesn’t matter. Otherwise, keep that card in there and ensure you’re getting the maximum return on your casino visits.

Do you have other tips about using a players card? Share them in the comments below!

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

    • Thanks for checking out the site! I do not live in a state that has legalized any sort of online betting at this point, so I haven’t had the opportunity to personally do much research, nor have any recommendations for you. You can check broader message boards like Vegas Message Board or Vegas Fanatics and may find players who have a bit more to offer. Best of luck!

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