What are COMPS and how do I get them?

"Comps" is just a short way of saying "complimentaries". They are the freebies given away by casinos to entice you to spend money in their casinos. A comp can be anything from a free keychain to a luxury weekend hotel stay including 3,000 square foot suite with butler service, limo transportation and free airfare to Las Vegas. Granted, the amount you gamble has to be pretty high to get the suite and airfare, but most casinos will provide comps to even the lowest of lowroller. It's all in how you play the game.

The key to comps is to always be sure that you are rated when you play. This means that the casino keeps track of your average bet and the time you play. Almost all casinos in Las Vegas have a slot club card to do this. You find the slot club booth in the casino, fill out a card with your name, address, phone and social security number and they issue you a plastic, credit card sized card with an ID number on it. When you sit down at a table game, you hand that card to the pit boss who logs you in and notes your average bet. When you leave, they make a note of that too. Same goes for slot machines or video poker. When you sit at a machine, there is a slot where you insert your card. That will track the amount of money you put through that machine. Never ever ever play a machine without a slot club card in it. You are losing money if you do. Most casinos offer cashback or comps based on the denomination you bet and your length of play. You earn "points" based on the number of coins you put into the machine and those points can be redeemed for various comps from t-shirts to free rooms.

Here are some of the types of things you can get comped:

The most obvious, yet often overlooked comp in town are the free drinks you are provided with while you play. Typically, when you're sitting at a machine or table game, cocktail waitresses will walk by saying "cocktail". Give them your order for your drink of choice and they'll go get it. Some casinos are limited on the drinks they provide. Some only provide the "cheap stuff" while others will give you anything you ask for. Our favorite is Main Street Station downtown as they will bring you beer from their microbrewery at the machines and tables.

The free drinks are the easiest comp to get. All you have to do is sit down and start playing and eventually a cocktail waitress will stroll by and take your order. (Remember, it's always a good idea to tip the waitresses - see my tipping guide here). Some casinos will also comp cigarettes at the tables, but those casinos are getting few and far between.

The next easiest comp to get would be a line pass to the buffet. Basically this just gets you past all the other people in line. It gets you into the casino guest line, but does not pay for your food. It is just a little bit more difficult to get the buffet pass and it's always best to ask for that. Just go up to any pit boss or slot host and ask for a comp to the buffet for how ever many people are in your party. If they've seen you gambling at all, most will give you a comp for two to the buffet which includes a line pass. Just go straight to the casino guest line with the paper they hand you and eat up.

The same method is used to get comps to coffee shops, restuarants, shows, etc. You find your slot host or the pit boss in the area you're playing and ask if you've played enough for a comp to .... whatever. You can also go back to the slot club booth and see how many points you have available to redeem for a buffet or restaurant. However, I have found better success by establishing a relationship with a host and asking them directly. More often than not, the points will not be taken out of your account for the meal, or you may be given a comp when you don't yet have enough points to cover it.

The same goes for getting casino rate or free rooms, etc. When you are ready to check out of the hotel where you've been staying and playing, go downstairs and ask to speak to a host. Tell them how much you have enjoyed playing at their hotel, etc. Then ask if they can take any charges off your bill. I always charge everything to my room from buffets to restaurants to specialty drinks in the bar. I am not much of a high roller ($0.25 video poker a few hours a day) but I usually get something by asking. Usually a few free meals, or my room rate reduced. It never hurts to ask and you won't get anything if you don't try at all.

Never be embarrassed or intimidated. Always be nice. The casino host is there to make sure that you have a good time and that you return to their casino in the future. Many times a casino host will not be able to give you much at that time (when you're checking out) but they will give you their card and will say "Please let me know when you'd like to visit us next time." Calling them before your next trip will almost always result in a discounted room rate (casino rate) at a minimum. Establishing a relationship with a casino host at a particular hotel you enjoy will get you more and more comps each visit if you consistently gamble in their casino.

The trick is to be nice, and not to abuse the host. Many hosts have told me that first time visitors will contact them and expect the world for $100 of gaming. You can't get RFB (Room, food and beverages comped) if you're playing nickle slots. The hosts have to account for the things they comp. Comps are generally computed based on expected loss. If you played $1000 at blackjack with a 3% expected house edge, they would presume that you lost $30. They would comp you a percentage of that, usually 20-40%, or $6-12. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to lose that $30. In fact, if you play an hour of a positive expectation video poker game (like deuces wild) statistically you will break even or come out slightly ahead, but the casino will still assume that you have lost that $30 or so and will base your comps on that figure.

There are a number of excellent resources out there about what slot clubs are best and how best to work them. The Queen of Comps is Jean Scott, the author of the Frugal Gambler. Her book is an excellent resource in learning how to work the comp system to your advantage. Here are some other great books that will help you.

Frugal Gambler
Fly on the Wall

Casino Secrets
Frugal Gambler

The Queen of Comps, Jean Scott, shares her tips for getting the most for your betting dollar. How to work the comp system and get the most freebies from the casinos. Great tips!

The Las Vegas Advisor Guide to Slot Clubsl

This book rates 57 Nevada Casino slot clubs for comps and value. A necessity!

The new version is almost ready for release - order now to get your copy as soon as it's released.

Comp City

Max Rubin details everytying you need to know about comps in this book. He talks a lot about high rollers, but the information is useful to even the lowest of roller

Casino Secrets

Barney Vinson goes over how to play almost every game in the casino. A great book for beginners and experts!
Casino Gambling for the Clueless
Victory Video Poker

Guerrilla Gambling

Frank Scoblette is one of my favorite authors where gaming strategy is concerned. This is a great reference for strategy on any and all casino games.

Casino Gambling for the Clueless

If you're just starting out and want to play some of those games you've seen, this book is for you. It's a VERY simple guide to the major table games.

American Casino Guide

This is one of the most complete guides out there to casinos in the United States listing all the amenities for each hotel along with coupons and articles to help you make the most of your vacation.

Victory Video Poker

This is a very good book that covers almost all aspects of playing Video Poker. If you're just starting out with video poker, or need some tips on how to better your return, get this one..

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