Last Friday morning, my wife and I went to see one of the first showings of The Hunger Games at the Red Rock Station. She had read the book a couple of months ago and has been very excited about the movie coming out. I can't remember the last time we went to see a movie on opening day. Maybe on the Sunday of opening weekend, but at 9:30 a.m. show on Friday? We got there by about 8:30 a.m. to make sure we got tickets. Fortunately, the 6 people ahead of us didn't buy them all and try to scalp them! So, by 8:31 a.m. we had our tickets and now had tome to go get some breakfast.
We walked over to the buffet and found out that if you have one of their Boarding Pass frequent Player cards, they'll take $3 off the cost. I didn't have mine on me, but I knew I had one, so we walked over to the Customer Service area, got a new card and saved our $6. While we were getting our new cards, I noticed a promotion that they were running today. If you earn 300 points, you get a free box of Girl Scout Cookies. Limit 2 per person and they DON'T take any of your points for the box of cookies. If we were looking for a place to play, this might have swayed us to stay - all other things being equal. We usually buy Girl Scout Cookies every year. They cost about $4 per box, so there is some real value to us. If we were diabetic, or I found they only have the one variety of cookies we don't like, then the value of this promotion has to be discounted from the $4 price.
I'm a firm believer in taking advantage of any/all promotions that the casinos want to throw at the Player. But, you have to be smart about deciding the value that each has to you. If your local supermarket runs a half-price sale on cold breakfast cereal, but you like oatmeal in the morning, the sale has little value to you. If you're the type of person who is going to stock up anyhow - just in case - well, you're going to be doing the casino a big favor by chasing everything.
After the movie was over, we stopped at the Rampart Casino on our way home. It is completely on the way to our place. They are running a promotion that gives me $10 in free slot play - which of course, includes video poker as the casinos continue to erroneously equate the two. The rule is you have to play the full $10, but you get to keep any of the return. I sat down at a nickel Bonus Poker machine and played max-coin. 40 hands later, the machine said $12 and I left. It took about 5-10 minutes. Am I that hard up for $12? Certainly not. But for 5 minutes of my time, the Rampart picked up the tab for breakfast for me and my wife! If I had sat down for an hour and played their short-pay machines and lost the $10 AND another $20, I would've played right into the casinos hands.
These are the little benefits the casinos give to Players to try to bring them into the casino. They'll give you a discount on meals. They'll give you some free play. It is no different than what the supermarkets do. They put milk on sale and hope you'll pay full price for bread, pasta and cheese. No one has ever complained about the supermarkets doing it, so no one should be surprised that the casinos do it as well.
Just like the supermarkets, the casinos now give you points when you play. I've heard some Players voice concern that the casinos use your Rewards card in less savory ways. Some are worried that the casino will have you win less often if you use your card because they are in essence paying you to play. From a computer perspective, this is certainly possible. But, do people really believe that the casino will cheat (aka. break the law) to not give the 1/4% back to the Player that they are telling the Player they can have. Caesar's Entertainment (formerly known as Bally's and Harrah's) has a market cap of over $1.5 BILLION. I don't think they are going to risk that type of money so that they can cheat some Player out of his $5 cashback!
The lesson for today is get the Rewards card. Get everyone you can. Keep a little box of them with you when you head out to the casinos. When you play in a casino, ALWAYS use your card. That said, be smart when determining the value of the rewards when you decide where to play. Are you better off playing at a casino that gives 50% more rewards, but has lower paybacks? If there is a promotion running that allows you to get a free meal at a steakhouse, but you're a vegetarian, it has no value. If it is a steakhouse you love to eat at, then it is worth its face value.
Especially for video poker players who are (hopefully) playing at 99% paybacks and higher, taking that extra 1/4% - 1/2% from the casino can put you very close to an even game. It will certainly cut the house advantage down considerably and your bankroll will certainly notice.